It’s not about the kids, Rhonda.

Dayton Public Schools strike prep- signs for the strikers

The teachers are prepared.

If I had a nickle for every time rookie superintendent Rhonda Corr said “It’s about the kids” we’d have enough money to fix Longfellow school, with some left over.

Of course, we don’t really know how much it would cost to fix Longfellow, all we have is hearsay, because fixing a historic building was never the goal of this Board of Education, because, well, Dr. Baguirov apparently isn’t in the construction industry on the side. Things that relate to his private businesses get done (helping CareSource- the largest Medicare provider in the state- helps pay Dr. B’s home health businesses, and the bus deal- he’s the guy with a trucking company that does business with the company that got the gold plated warranty deal).

This board that meets more times than any other public board, and gets less done, is criminal in its actions. They conduct business at “review “and “strategy” sessions- which seem just like board meetings- only they hold them in the room outside the board room- and don’t allow citizens to speak. This, is intentional- and wrong.

And when they do meet to conduct business- they allow Dr. Sheila Burton to present a one slide plan for revamping busing in the district- in JULY! With zero questions. They praise the cutting off of private day care providers and make speeches- only to reverse course after they learn what they are doing- because, frankly, they have no clue what they are doing- and neither does Corr, Burton, Treasurer Hiwot Abraha.

It’s this kind of lack of intellectual horsepower that has our district permanently checked in to the ICU as a major trauma victim. Switching bell times, this late in the season doesn’t work for all parents. Can you imagine if you have multiple kids at different bell times? Or, you have your daughter at Charity Early- which used to start at 9am and now is 7:15- meaning an earlier dismissal time- and now you have to figure out after school care? Or if your daughter will even be transported still- since the bus ride is over 30 minutes from your East Dayton home?

As we approach the last two days of negotiations on a contract with the DEA, not a single board member has stepped in to observer the “negotiating team” in action. They are depending on the word of Rhonda Corr to tell them what is going on in negotiations- the woman who showed up after a two month break without a proposal for the DEA. Read that last line again. She showed up, no proposal, and, is quoted in the media that she’s surprised that the DEA was going to vote to strike. She came out of the day long negotiation saying 5 things had been cleared off the table- according to DEA president David Romick the DEA didn’t sign anything- or agree to clear any item and he has no idea of what she’s talking about.

It was pretty clear yesterday that the DEA is tired of the incompetent leadership at Ludlow HQ. I walked among the teachers, as they gathered in solidarity at Triangle park, and told me story after story of what this failed negotiation process has cost the district. Half of the 5 star pre-school certified staff- has left. Not because they wanted to – but because the administration doesn’t seem to understand the program and what being a 5 star program entails. The latest news is that HQ is telling people who call- that DPS preschool is now a 5 day a week program instead of 4. Meaning that the things required to be a 5 star program- that are done on Fridays- can’t be done anymore. There are required meetings, training, reports, and lesson planning that is done on these days- and apparently, Corr doesn’t understand this. These teachers are truly teachers- with masters degrees and additional licenses, that’s what a 5 star rating entails.

On Friday, I spoke to a former DPS math teacher, male, younger. He’s now working at Trotwood. I’ve known him for around 8 years, as he used to teach my x-girlfriends daughters. He left, not because of pay, he didn’t even know how much he’d make more at Trotwood- but did say they honored all of his years, and step increases, but because he’s in the middle of a medical situation that he can’t afford to be without health insurance. If you know anything about HR in schools- male, math teachers, in pk-8 grades- are unicorns. One of ours, just flew away.

No board members attended the union picnic. Not even Sheila Taylor, supposedly the mouthpiece of local labor. John McManus blamed his job in Columbus for stopping him from going, but the rest, steered clear. How a board that works for the community, can be so out of touch with their staff is mind-blowing. However, many of the candidates appearing on the ballot in November to replace Ron Lee, Dr. Hazel Rountree, Joe Lacey and Dr. Adil Baguirov were there. 8 have already filed petitions (sadly, Joe Lacey is one of the 8) and the turn-in deadline is Wednesday Aug 9th. Many DEA members asked me to run, something that’s just not possible right now due to my responsibilities with my 89 year old mother with dementia.

The real question, with two negotiating days to go, is when will someone from the board step in to the negotiations to observe and see how their team is working?

The board has already spent $150K on Huffmaster to prepare for the strike- and has agreed to pay $200 a day per substitute strike breaker- and Corr has claimed they will have “Certified teachers in the classrooms” yet Huffmaster’s ad clearly doesn’t require it. There aren’t 600 unemployed certified teachers in this region, never mind Dayton.

This is why, the only sane move the board can make is to tell Corr if an agreement isn’t reached on Monday, she’s fired, and Dr. Burton takes over. If Burton, can’t negotiate a settlement on Wednesday, she’s fired and it’s up to Dr. Lolli to lead the district.

We’ve already lost enough students to charter schools, and when the strike hits- 5 days before school starts, and parents rush to enroll their kids in Charters, and funding drops again, we’ll be left in shambles. The only logical thing to do if an agreement isn’t made on Wednesday is to re-set the school year to begin in September, pending a settlement. Pushing forward with schools staffed with temps isn’t a viable solution anymore than maintaining Corr as superintendent. The damage she’s already done to the district can’t even be enumerated.

Because, at this point, it’s not about the kids- it’s about her competence.

Rookie Superintendent Corr kicks her lawyers to the curb

After being mostly absent in the discussions over the 400 odd issues up for contention in the contract negotiations between Dayton Public Schools and the Dayton Education Association representing the teachers, Rhonda roared into the negotiating room last Tuesday, excused the boards lawyers and they haven’t been let back in the room.

Of the 400 issues- about half are just grammatical.

The remaining 200 are serious. This is an ambitious attempt by a rookie to remake the district, and so far, the DEA has been unimpressed, leading to the invitation of a mediator.

The legal bills generated to the boards outside law firm have been large up to this point.

Now, we’re in the hands of Dr. Sheila Burton, Dr. Libby Lolli and lead by Rhonda Corr.

To be fair, the DEA hasn’t had any lawyers involved on their side of the table. The board has had Tabitha Justice of Subashi & Wildermuth and board lawyer Jyllian Bradshaw on their side of the table.

The DEA has already authorized a strike, and has promised to wait until after summer session to actually walk off the job, leaving time for last minute heroics, but, the question is will their members wait?

Teachers are now back in short supply, and other districts offer better pay, better benefits and much higher morale as enticements. DPS has been losing teachers at an insanely high 20% rate for the last few years, helping to contribute to the fact that this is the worst performing district in the state.

On Wednesday, I went to the community town hall at Belmont High School. Corr made every PR mistake possible in the span of an hour, leaving parents, teachers, coaches, bus drivers and concerned citizens feeling like they’d just witnessed a concession of failure speech.

She had no real answers on busing changes, which was her lead item- via her surrogate Dr. Burton who gave a lame powerpoint presentation basically outlining that DPS can’t get your kids to school now, or next year. Questions from the audience were better thought out than the new three bell time schedule, or on why DPS is training other districts bus drivers for free.  “We did train 60 drivers but only 7 of them stayed” (8:41 on the video).

She goes on to say she’s working with her legal department to try to figure it out- the same legal department she dismissed from negotiations?

Other questions about why Mark Baker was given a 2 year contract, despite not meeting the standard other coaches must meet- namely, not being sanctioned by the Ohio High School Athletic Association, got blown off- with “I can’t talk about personnel issues.”

Parents got hit last year with the major shakeup of the reintroduction of middle schools at the last minute.

Now, there is no confirmation that your kid will be able to be transported to the school they go to this year- next year. Parents, rightfully asked, “when will we know” which went unanswered.

Principals have reported teachers pulling up to the buildings with U-hauls to remove their personal items, something they’ve never seen at this level before.

It’s time to remove the board who hired this rookie, and to then remove her as well.

Dayton can’t afford to lose even more students to charters, to other districts, to vouchers, because our superintendent can’t lead.