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.

 

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.

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.

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.

 

 

 

Sunshine laws and Dayton Public School meetings

Sunshine law cartoon

Columbia Tribune: Sunshine John Darkow
03/09/2005

I had planned to write a post to define the Sunshine laws, how “work sessions” are supposed to work, and what a “business meeting” is.

I was also going to cover how most elected bodies manage going into executive session, what they are allowed to talk about behind closed doors, and what it means if there is a board that spends a LOT of time in executive session- but then, I said, maybe I should look back on the 2500+ posts on this blog… surely- I’ve covered it before? And, the answer is: of course I have- over and over. Even about DPS. Even with arguments in comments with Dr. Adil Baguirov, Joe Lacey, etc.

I could just send you to all the posts- and you know what, since I’m feeling stuffed and lazy this Thanksgiving, I’m going to do that. But, there are a few things I need to point out before I do that.

Most boards go into executive session at the END of their regular meeting. This is so guests who are invited to speak, don’t have to sit around and wait for them to finish in the back room. It’s also usually done this way, so people WON’T know how long they are in executive session.

Why is the length of executive session meaningful? Typically, the limited issues that are allowed to be discussed in executive session are ones in which a board/commission/etc. is reviewing the findings and options that are presented by those they supervise- for DPS that means the Superintendent and the Treasurer. They should be getting well prepared documents in advance, with cost benefit analysis, organizational charts, performance reports, contracts, bids, etc. By the time they arrive, they should have their questions ready, and should know the material inside out. Then it comes down to are there 4 votes to support the action? This really shouldn’t take long if the organizational leadership has provided cogent, succinct, relevant briefing material. So, when you have long sessions behind closed doors- it means you are questioning your leadership. Not a good sign.

Competent leadership guides the board in the direction they are taking the organization. Weak leadership relies on the board to guide them in doing their job.

Based on the amount of time the Dayton Board of Education is spending behind closed doors- our new superintendent must be floundering in their eyes. Have they recognized yet that they made a huge mistake in hiring Rhonda Corr? Is that why there have been long executive sessions- ones that she’s not in? That most likely means they are discussing her future here.

Executive sessions are usually not needed for things that need immediate action if an organization isn’t flying by the seat of their pants. Announcing a list of layoffs, then going into executive session, then voting on it- in a “work session” instead of a “business meeting” has so many flaws in it, there is the potential for 20 separate or one-class action lawsuit for managing it incorrectly. The former board Treasurer is already suing them for his illegal firing. Items like this, should be discussed in executive session- and decided on, then posted on the next business meetings agenda- with good notice, and then acted on. At least in theory – that’s how it’s supposed to go.

But, this post is already longer than it needs to be.

You could have just read this post: What is a legal meeting of the Dayton City Commission? Yes- it’s about the city commission, but it spells out the differences between public meetings and work sessions- which the board of ed calls different things- review sessions, strategic planning discussion, various committees etc. It’s why Dayton Daily news education reporter says that this board meets more, longer than any other school board in the region. Hmmm, maybe that’s why the district is failing?

Or this post: Dayton Board of Ed votes 4-3 to donate taxes to GE/UD
This one doesn’t really get into the nitty gritty of the sunshine laws, but is interesting because Joe Lacey denies screaming and gets involved in the comments. The reality is- the board didn’t really want citizen input- and gave away a big tax break to General Electric. The fact that the vote was 4-3 shows there was a little common sense on the board at the time with current board members Lacey, Taylor and Lee all voting yes. None of the no votes are still on the board. There are 87 comments on this post- a lot of insight for those who want to learn more.

This post isn’t about public bodies meeting- it’s about people who buy off public bodies meeting. The cast of characters has a similar lineup of the people who bought and paid for Issue 9. Public officials, Private meeting. Our Dayton – discussed behind closed doors as always- follow the money if you want the truth.

And, saving the best and most relevant for last, including comments by Dr. Baguirov and Joe Lacey, is the one about how the meeting was handled when the Board was in the process of subverting former Superintendent Lori Ward as she was about to attend a forum with local groups. Time for some sunshine in DPS meetings The labeling of the local New Black Panther Party and the Nation of Islam as hate groups was just one more indication of the racist overtures of the current board president. Again, comments are illuminating with contributions from Baguirov and Lacey.

Several former employees have said that they felt they were being discriminated against because they were African American. The list of firings from the November 8th meeting- had a preponderance of African Americans on it. Several former African American employees said they wouldn’t come back to the district unless Dr. Baguirov is either off the board, or minimally not board president. Ideally, they’d like to see a majority of the board no longer on the board, but Baguirov was the main sticking point.

One last observation, strong black males, outspoken competent leadership, seem to have been high on the list for the recent cuts that were made with bad enrollment and financial data. Something else to think about.

If you go back to my speech at the October board meeting, I said the number one thing that is required for building the school brand back is trust. The “Sunshine Laws” are key to building trust through transparency. The board needs to make a few key changes immediately if they want to restore trust after this latest round of fiascos:

  • All board meetings should be filmed and put online.
  • All board meetings should have complete agendas published at least 48 hours before a meeting- and ideally 72 hours before.
  • All business, items to be voted on, must be done at a business meeting, or a meeting where citizen participation is welcome.
  • Executive sessions should be held at the end of regularly scheduled meetings, so people don’t have to wait while you futz around in the back room.
  • The system of using “Board Docs” to publish agendas needs so many improvements it should be abandoned. It’s not mobile friendly- or ADA compliant. It seems to be fluid- without clarification of when changes are posted (some info seems to be posted while or after the meeting took place), the sections are confusing and overly complex. It’s not easily searchable. That they pay for this joke of a system is another indication that their IT director deserved his termination more than most.

See you at the Tuesday December 6 2016 meeting, at 5pm where we will learn if John McManus becomes president, if the rest of the cuts using bad data are acted upon, if Rhonda Corr will keep her job.

The meeting the citizens are organizing to plan for this meeting is:

Thursday December 1, 2016 6-7:30 p.m.
Corinthian Baptist Church
700 S James H. McGee Blvd, Dayton

“Parents of DPS students are invited to join a conversation about proposed changes to the yearly budget and personnel in our classrooms.
Please join us to ask questions, provide feedback, and share our vision for the future of our children and community. School board members have been invited to attend to answer questions and provide greater understanding for their plan for Dayton Public Schools.”

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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.

 

Dayton Public Schools : We’re broke, and we don’t want your money for idle real estate

Just two weeks ago, Dayton Public Schools were dead broke, because they’d lost 577 students, which worked out to $4.6M shortfall, and that this was a reason to cut contracted administrators and even teachers mid-year in a Reduction in Force.

Only next thing we hear is that it’s really only a $2M drop because of decreased enrollment, and well, we’re not sure exactly what the actual number is:

The new enrollment data from ODE shows there are actually about 17 fewer Dayton students attending charter schools this year, but almost 300 more attending private schools on state vouchers.

Source: DPS will lose $2.6M less than board president claimed

It would seem that management of numbers and money under the new administration is run with some kind of new math- where things no longer have to add up. Which brings us to the disposal of real estate by the board.

We just saw the board go into executive session on Wed Oct 26th  just before the election to sell the old Patterson Co-op location downtown for a million dollars to CareSource. At that meeting, Dr. Baguirov told DDN reporter Jeremy Kelley that the board was anxious to sell other properties because of holding costs, and that they’d come to some sort of agreement with the city that when they needed additional land to expand schools near downtown that are at capacity- they’d have the cities help. He also mentions some additional concessions by CareSource to the district, which weren’t described then, but in a conversation with me, he identifies them as: “along with mobile health clinic, medical equipment, internships, and other in kind contributions” and keeping CareSource in Dayton and bringing 900 jobs.

Problem is, immediately after selling the property to CareSource, it was transferred to the PortAuthority permanently ending any chance of property tax revenue to the schools.
Here is the video link-

http://www.mydaytondailynews.com/videos/news/dps-sells-prominent-land-downtown/vDrPNp/

The newspaper also had this to say about the real estate:

The grassy field, located at 118 E. First St., has been described by some developers and officials as among the most desirable and development-ready sites in downtown.

Source: Downtown school property to be sold for future CareSource use | www.mydaytondailynews.com

The question is, when was this parcel up for auction? When was it offered for sale? Were multiple bids asked for? The answer, of course not. But, what was done was  that CareSource kicked over $25K to the Issue 9 campaign, to help it raise taxes on its employees, to fund a private organization with an unfettered $4.5M a year to provide the “pre-school promise” through private organizations- and keep $900K a year for admin and overhead. Note, Dayton Board of Education members can be paid a maximum of $5k each a year. The Board didn’t make a peep about their existing 5 star pre-schools, that aren’t at capacity while this campaign was on. Made zero sense, unless another deal has been negotiated- either to send some of those Issue 9 funds back to the district, or that someone who runs for higher office in the future will be supported the same way Issue 9 was- handsomely.

The thing about disposal of old school properties is that any revenue must be used to retire debt on the new buildings. It can’t be put into teachers salaries or the general fund. As to schools near downtown that could be expanded with help from the city, Rivers Edge is the only “downtown school” left- and it is bursting at the seams. Ruskin would be another, but already odd deals have been done for surrounding buildings there. The two other sites that Dr. Baguirov may be asking for help from the city both are near Grandview hospital- the old Julianne School site in FROC or the old  Van Cleve School at the corner of N. Main and Helena. If you want a really interesting history of schools that are no more look at this site: http://www.oldohioschools.com/montgomery_county.htm

  • Patterson Kennedy School in Dayton ready for demolition
    Patterson Kennedy School ready for Demo
  • Timbers from Patterson Kennedy School in Dayton
    Timbers from PK school
  • Harvested stone from Patterson Kennedy School in Dayton
    Havested stone from PK school

Which brings us to the site that didn’t sell at Auction back in 2015- Patterson Kennedy School, which sat as a buffer between my neighborhood South Park and the UD Ghetto- excuse me, we don’t use that term anymore, especially after UD has spent so much money acquiring private real estate to use for student housing. The old PK was the place where all the kids who didn’t speak English were shoved, even after almost all the other new schools were built. It was at capacity plus, with over 900 students when they closed it. When they tore it down, there were parts that almost didn’t want to come down- with huge timbers providing a structural integrity that modern buildings can only dream of. If I have time, I’ll dig for photos of the demolition I took. But for now- remember it went up for auction in 2015- and didn’t sell, with what seemed like a high beginning bid price of $720K

Monday, Aug. 17, 2015

All 24 vacant properties that Dayton Public Schools is trying to unload went unclaimed in an online auction that closed last week, but there is still a chance that some of the sites will change hands.

“We had several parties who posted the initial bid deposits, but unfortunately we did not have any bidding whatsoever,” said Louis Fisher, national director of Sperry Van Ness auction services.

“I’ll make a recommendation that we go back to all those that registered and ask, ‘What would you offer?’ We had several parties who said they would love to make an offer, but the minimum bids were at too much of a painful threshold.

”With few exceptions, school districts are required by Ohio law to offer such properties via public auction. But since the properties remained once the auction closed, Fisher said the school board can negotiate with individual buyers.

Dayton Public Schools spokeswoman Jill Moberley said the district will wait to receive an executive summary from the auctioneer and will consider all options.

The 24 parcels once housed prominent local schools such as Colonel White, Orville Wright, MacFarlane and Fairport, but the buildings have been demolished, leaving empty lots ranging from 1.7 acres to 16 acres.

DPS officials said they are trying to sell the properties to eliminate the cost of maintenance, including significant mowing work, given that 10 of the properties are larger than eight acres.

Minimum bids were less than $10,000 for the six smallest sites (1.7 to 2.6 acres), just over $30,000 for most of the sites around eight acres, and $40,000 to $65,000 for the six sites ranging from 11 to 16 acres.

One major exception was the 3.27-acre former Patterson-Kennedy school site, at 258 Wyoming Street. Because of its location on the edge of the thriving Brown Street corridor, between the University of Dayton and Miami Valley Hospital, the minimum bid for that site was about $720,000.

“I think we will work something out (on that site),” Fisher said. “We have to go back and say, what is it worth, and have a competitive environment. We have to protect the school district so they’re not giving it away, and so they maximize the highest price that’s available in the market today.”…

Fisher said more than 1,200 people visited the auction website.

“With the real estate market crash (of the last decade), some of these sites were challenging at best, but there were some good sites, too,” Fisher said. “Hopefully we’ll be able to do a Round 2, and tie some of these properties up with third-party buyers.”

Source: Dayton Public Schools don’t sell any properties in auction. | www.mydaytondailynews.com

Fast forward to Sept of 2016. Some developers out of Columbus decide to offer the District a premium over the minimum bid: $900K. They try repeatedly to submit their offer, yet, the legal counsel for the district, Jyllian Bradshaw (nee Guerriero), refuses their offers. In an email, labeled 3rd rejection by the bidders, on Oct 19th at 2:38 PM she says:

“Thanks for reaching out. At this time, the Board is not interested in selling the Patterson Kennedy site. I’ll reach out if anything changes.
Best,
Jyllian Guerriero”

The thing is, Jyllian can’t make that decision. It’s up to the superintendent, treasurer and the board. Multiple board members say they knew nothing of this offer, except Baguirov, who thinks the offer is “too low.”

Which makes me wonder if it was too low, why was the board willing to sell for $720K a year earlier? And, what if it was to someone who was going to build a 5 story apartment building which would bring in huge property tax revenues to the district? Or a grocery store?

Other emails hint that the Superintendent was the one standing in the way.

But, if we look at other real estate deals done in the area: UD bought over 115 acres from NCR, including the World HQ for a paltry $18 million in 2009. The Marriott by UD, critical to business and university visitors went for $18.5 million, in 2014, of course this came with an operating business included. Down the street on Warren, you have a 5 acre property the city mistakenly sold for $650. Then CityWide, the quasi-public slush fund selected Oberer Development to do “development”, but no one knows how much they had to pay for the property or what they will eventually put on it, or what the taxes will be to the schools, because, well- that’s how we roll in Dayton. When Jeff Samuelson wanted to use the property for a new Kroger, he was shooed away, much like these developers for the PK site, and then the city went down a rabbit hole over at Wayne and Wyoming.

Since Dr. Baguirov isn’t a real estate appraiser, or developer, and the former minimal acceptable bid was $720K, the question is why isn’t a $900K bid at least entertained? According to board lawyer Bradshaw, there are 4 offers on the property right now. Funny thing is, there is no for sale sign at the corner of Wyoming and Alberta.

One would think if this was the case, the property would be auctioned again.

UPDATE

5am. Nov 22 2016 Just one more cost in holding the real estate- the city street light assessment tax. Looking up PK site: R72 02803 0025 258 WYOMING ST $175.56 annually $1,053.34 total. I remember reading somewhere that DPS was charged millions for this Nan Tax that was shoved down the publics throat right after her very expensive election.  Premier and UD both protested and failed at lowering their $2M combined assessment according to a DDn article.

Or, are they trying to figure out a way to transfer the property to either Premier Health who was the leading donor to Issue 9 through their membership in the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association GADAH- who tossed $30K in the hat. Of course, Premier would want a CareSource style deal- where they won’t have to pay property taxes either. UD would want the same deal, even if they were turning it into graduate student housing.

Through all of these attempts to buy the property, the auctioneer is desperately trying to get the deal done. He is reaching out to John Carr, who was in charge of the real estate for the district when the auction was conducted, but wasn’t still supposed to be on the DPS payroll in 2016. Carr says it’s more an issue with the Superintendent than the board. This would be the new superintendent, Rhonda Corr.  The developer is told to try to route this through Tami Kirby at the Porter Wright law firm which is assisting the district (additional costs).

I talked to several superintendents who all said the same thing, if they were presented an offer for real estate that is currently not in use, it would be their responsibility to present it to the board and ask for the boards guidance. In this case, the only person I can ascertain knew anything of this was Dr. Baguirov who reportedly meets with the superintendent weekly.

In the last set of personnel cuts (Nov 8 review session), the Interim Chief Operating Officer, Jo Wilson,  the person tasked with property management, maintenance, and disposal was cut. Could this have been to keep her quiet about the CareSource deal and the plans for the Patterson Kennedy site. This batch of cuts was made with the bad numbers, and reportedly isn’t up for re-evaluation like the round of cuts that was punted from Nov 17th to the December 6th meeting. This was the meeting where Dr. Baguirov threw a temper tantrum and walked out of executive session, and told the press he had “personal business”- which opened the door for John McManus to take over as President Pro Tem and run the mobbed meeting like a true statesman.

So far, people who were reporting inaccurate numbers to the board that “legitimized” the RIF on Nov 8, still have their jobs. Is anyone starting to see a pattern here?

Rhonda Corr was asked for comment on this deal, she didn’t respond.

A level headed leader emerges for Dayton Board of Education

Dr. Adil Baguirov slowing down the process of hiring a new school superintendent

Dr. Baguirov dallies along while the Schools fail.

When there’s been a protest, a rally, a whole bunch of pissed off people at a public meeting in the last 30 years in Dayton, I’ve generally been there. I’ve watched, time after time, when the person running the meeting makes it worse.

Tonight, 300 or so people at the Dayton Board of Education meeting were loaded for Baguirov, and after they went into executive session for an hour and forty five minutes, after the chants of “Come On Out” were started, out came John McManus to soothe the angry mob.

And when the whole board appeared a few minutes later as McManus promised, he was in the center seat as “President Pro Tem.” That normally means temporary, but, in this case, it should be permanent. And the board should be taking applications for a new member.

It seems Dr. Adil Baguirov, stormed out of executive like a spoiled child who didn’t get his way. Photos were taken by district employees of him leaving. The arrogant smirk still hadn’t been wiped off his face. Some joked he had to go home to find his calculator, since he’s been spouting numbers from the center seat just last week- that were as factual as a Donald Trump campaign statement.

With Baguirov gone, the swamp draining began. McManus announced that there would be no action on any layoffs tonight. That the board needed to hear from the public, to work with real data instead of the random facts that have been used as justification for rookie Superintendent Rhonda Corr’s personal personnel plan. The people who’ve already been laid off or RIF’d are still RIF’d- but no more action will be taken until the Dec. 8th meeting.

First came the labor leaders. They weren’t kind. This kind of disruption mid-school year and pre-holidays was unheard of. One even got up with her promotional sunglasses that were passed out by Corr at the beginning of the year convocation- because “Our future’s so bright we have to wear shades” when in fact, the shades were better used to hide the tears that were generated as some of the 50 speakers got up to share their stories- from kids to people who’ve been in the district for 30 years. One even pointed out that the “We are DPS” didn’t include Corr, Baguirov or even the rest of the board- who didn’t seem to understand exactly how things work in the district.

Veteran teachers who were getting moved mid-year tried to explain the impact of having to learn an entire classroom worth of kids mid year- and trying to adjust for individual learning types. How this just puts us back on track for failure.

Corr, sat there, showing every emotion on her face, except the one that should have been there- embarrassment. The meeting was 5.5 hours long. This was her mess. She still won’t own it.

Limiting speakers to 3 minutes each isn’t easy without ruffling feathers. There was a board meeting about a year ago where Racial Justice Now showed up in force. Baguirov tried to cut the times to a minute each. It ended up with DPS security hauling people away from the podium. Not so under McManus who managed each person deftly and left everyone feeling that they were appreciated, respected and heard. The boy’s a natural.

During the long executive session, where the district was probably trying to avert a lawsuit or two from wrongly terminated employees, the district ran video on their screens. Probably to stop people from organizing more in the room. Probably wouldn’t have happened anyway- it was standing room only and getting hotter by the minute. I talked to many principals, paras, union chiefs, and parents- who had all read the 8000 word post from last night. Already fired Challenger Learning Center leader MariJane Recob thanked me and told me she had a pair of Speedos in her back pocket. They never made an appearance in her highly emotional speech later, unfortunately. They all thanked me profusely. All day long, it was making the rounds. One high level person suggested my name should be Bernstein- as in Watergate reporters Woodward and…

I wrote a speech early in the day. As I got up to give it- someone yelled “I want your autograph.” That, is a new one. Usually it’s me, the candidate asking for their autographs to get on the ballot.

After I gave it, Darryl Fairchild said to me it was my best speech ever. Darryl doesn’t compliment me often. Here it is:

Last night I wrote an 8000 plus word post on my blog about this, and I’m glad to hear so many of you read it. Thank you for coming.
I’m going to start out with quoting someone famous.
We all know that quoting famous people makes you look smarter.
And, I’m told that citations are essential if you want to have a PhD – which of late, seems to be all that counts in this district.
So I’m going to quote the queen of soul, because right now- I think this district needs to rediscover its collective soul.
R-E-S-P-E-C-T
Find out what it means to me
R-E-S-P-E-C-T
Take care, TCB
TCB stands for Taking care of business.
Something that apparently has been lost on this board and superintendent
I need a little audience participation on this next part. Your line “Just a little bit”
I get tired- (AUDIENCE cue: “Just a little bit”)
Keep on tryin’ (AUDIENCE cue: “Just a little bit”)
You’re runnin’ out of fools (AUDIENCE cue: “Just a little bit”)
And I ain’t lyin’ (AUDIENCE cue: “Just a little bit”)
But someone sure has been. Lying. (someone called out “just a little bit”)
First it’s enrollment drops and money loss.
We need to cut para’s- because we don’t have money.
Then we need to hire 30 teachers- because, well, we do have money.
The people of the city trusted you with their school district.
And now, while you sat idly by- because someone thinks they can do a backroom deal where they get a “seat at the table” – there will be a private organization getting paid a whole lot more than our school board, to administer a program targeted at a tiny sliver of your responsibility.
Seriously- how’d that happen?
Our taxes are going up to fund the “pre-school promise” while, you were busy firing and then having a change of heart on the person who delivered the Top Pre School PERFORMANCE.
Aretha said it best:
I’m about to give you all of my money
And all I’m askin’ in return, honey
Is to give me my propers
It’s time to end this charade. Ms. Corr, Ms Abraha, and this boards leader can’t be trusted to tell the truth. Or do the right thing.
You got your single A that saved you from takeover because in part, of the work done by the lowest paid direct educators in the district.
You passed over the local superstar who helped get you there for an untested rookie.
It’s not too late to end this charade.
Time to quote Ray Charles- “You’ve got the right one baby” right here in Dayton. Home grown. A Dayton Public School Grad. Who doesn’t need a GPS to find his way to the schools, or a name tag to know who does the real work here.
He may not be perfect. None of us are. But, at least he is worthy of R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

When McManus gave his closing remarks (he had a speech too that was 10 minutes long, that he didn’t feel needed to be shared once they delayed the RIF) one of his last words was RESPECT. He should have spelled it out… R-E-S-P-E-C-T

People came up to me after and thanked me. Others asked what the URL of the blog was. All day I’ve seen people sign up for email notifications to the blog, often with those long .k12.oh.us endings. Others said they’d vote for me.

Right now, the board needs to take a vote of no confidence in Dr. Adil Baguirov. They need to remove him as President, and ask for his resignation.

They also need to reconsider the employment of Superintendent Rhonda Corr, Treasurer Hiwot Abraha, Associate Superintendent Sheila Burton who is in charge of enrollment management and legal counsel Jyllian Bradshaw.

They should be asking the consultant Deborah Heater, who helped them with this RIF, for their money back. How any consultant could claim this would help the district, mid-school year, and without checking the enrollment numbers carefully, is gross professional negligence.

And an investigation should be conducted into how the fourth grade at Horace Mann elementary school was closed in June. It’s not a school you can enroll in and get a transfer voucher. In fact, it usually has a waiting list. I know it well, my x-girlfriends kids went there- we had to fight  to get them in. This point came up over and over from parent, teacher, para in comments.

Lastly, there are still questions about property deals that haven’t come out. There may be reason to have the State Attorney General investigate the sale of real estate by the district. There are also questions on why this district sat idly by as Issue 9 subverted their responsibility for pre-school. Was a board member given promises of future money? Employment? Help with running for future office for letting this levy run without opposition?

Goodbye Dr. Baguirov, you won’t be missed.

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