Niccolò Lolli at the helm

Machiavelli was ruthless.

Machiavellianism is “the employment of cunning and duplicity in statecraft or in general conduct”.

Dr. Lolli announced the latest seating chart on the DPS tilt-a-whirl and analysis by the team behind esrati.com says she gets an A- for strategically solving some district problems.

Some of the people are being set up to fail, by being given horrible assistants, or assignments that should be a hint to leave. Others are being used to help set the stage for the next round of school closings. As Dr. Lolli says- this isn’t a final line-up, because she needs to find some new bodies to fill in the gaps- and she expects some to resign after seeing their new placements.

Good morning,
We are continuing to build the administrative team.
These changes are now being announced. A few adjustments from the last announcement have been made as we continue to make sure we have the best teams in place.
Edison: Jessica Reese, Principal
Myra Baker, Asst. Principal
Kemp: Stacy Maney, Principal
Gary Armstrong, Assistant Principal
Valerie: Shawnkeida Whitlow, Principal
Deidre Kelley, Assistant Principal
Teacher Leaders: Morgynne Hicks, Kristal Etter
Edwin Joel Brown: Channey Goode, Principal
Assistant Principals: Dale Robinson, Tiffany Bozeman
Wogaman: Basharus Simmons, Principal
Assistant Principals: Stacey Williams, Timothy McKinney
Wright Brothers: Eric Krissek, Principal
Assistant Principal : George Hurbanek
Belmont HS: Dr. Donetrus Hill, Principal
Assistants: Alice Owen-Clough, Karen Chichetti, Gerry Griffith
Dunbar Early College HS: Dr. Sean Henry, Principal
Assistants: Chris Caldwell, Dr. Lynda Huggins
Meadowdale HS: Nelson Stone
Assistant: Melinda Clark
Ponitz Career Center: Raymond Caruthers, Principal
Asistants : Daniel Hinshaw, Lolita Stevens
Stivers School for the Arts: Rachel Murdock, Dean of Academics/ Erin Dooley Assistant Principal: Adrienne WileyILC: Tasha Millerton, Assistant Principal
Chief of Curriculum, Instruction and PD: Carolyn Mack
Chief of Secondary Schools: Erin Dooley
District Athletic Director: Shawna Welch
Director of Outreach and Student Activities: Ida Nalls
Director of Professional Development and Curriculum
Support: Ryan Tait
Associate Director of Truancy: Mark Baker
We still have a few vacancies to fill in a few of the buildings.
Congratulations to each of these administrators!!
Elizabeth J. Lolli, Ph.D.
Superintendent
Dayton Public Schools
115 S. Ludlow Street
Dayton, Ohio 45402
(937) 542-3530
(937) 542-3555 (Fax)

As long as she relies on Dr. Sheila Burton, Marsha Bonhart and doesn’t figure out a true head of operations, she’s doomed.

However, moving Erin Dooley to supervise all the high schools is long overdue. The only proven principal in the district, Dooley can serve as a mentor/troubleshooter/drill sergeant to the principals being thrown into the fires of what passes for High Schools in DPS.

At the upcoming review session, she’s also hiking staff and admin salaries, retroactively, – with the odd explanation: “To better align with increases received by members of our bargaining units, I recommend an increase of 3% to the salary scale for Administrators and District Support Staff, retroactive to July 1, 2017.”

For the bargaining units- you waited until the last minute to sign, throwing the district into chaos? There was no retroactive pay for the teachers. And, you and your former boss, Rhonda Corr had no problem throwing several hundred thousand at Huffmaster for the strike that never happened.

At some point, you are going to say you’re broke and come to the taxpayers with yet another F on your report card- and want more money.

Yet- there were no RFPs or RFQs for research. Just a line item “Contract between Hanover Research Council and DBOE for research services, research reports, survey design, administration and analysis, interviews, benchmarking metrics. Effective July 1, 2018. $42,000 annually”

I’m still waiting for the communications that were used between DPS and the Montgomery County ESC to hire Burges and Burges for their survey. It seems all of a sudden, we’re flush with money.

And the legal bills keep coming: “Increase $158,000 to provide legal services to the district for various legal matters on an as needed basis for the 2017-2018 school year. Not to exceed $323,000 Originally approved on June 2017 board agenda Board Agenda: May 15, 2018”
“Increase $65,000 to provide legal services to the district for various legal matters on an as needed basis for the 2017-2018 school year. Not to exceed $240,000 Originally approved on June 2017 board agenda Board Agenda: May 15, 2018”
That’s over half a million, and DPS has an internal legal staff as well.
There is also another large chunk of money going to the Montgomery County Educational Service Center- a slush fund operation, which operates with Dayton tax dollars- but Dayton residents can’t serve on its board: “Increase purchase order by $91,841.12 due to vendor increasing rates for one on one

assistants services during the 2017-2018 school year. Originally approved December 19, 2017
Board Agenda Not to Exceed $341,841.12 For May 15, 2018 Board Agenda”
On personnel issues, there are some non-renewals- including the Ruskin Principal, Jennifer Dearwester, and the assistant principal at Ponitz who was part of the failure to keep a riot from getting a teacher dragged down the hall- Debra Corbin is non-renewed and the other assistant, Julie Nighswander, resigned.
Dr. Bob Bucheim got demoted to “Associate Director, Secondary Social Studies” which should serve as a hint that he’s no longer useful to the district and that he should be job hunting elsewhere.
There will be some battles over the other non-renewals, but, this board will sit in a trance and let the Superintendent get involved in more lawsuits. I’m starting to wonder if the new board members weren’t sponsored by the local bar association.
The real question is what happens this fall, if the district doesn’t pull a rabbit out of the hat with improved annual yearly progress to stop the State from stepping in. The last team to get an A in AYP was headed by Lisa Minor and David Lawrence who have both left the district. And, while it’s early in the resignation season, many DEA members are saying they just can’t take another year of the tilt-a-whirl, and we’ll see how many abandon the good ship Lolli-pop.
Less victims for Dr. Niccolò Lolli.
Machiavelli, however, is applauding from his tomb.

Decision time for Dayton Public Schools

Contract renewal time for the Superintendent, Lori Ward and the Treasurer, Craig Jones. There may be others, but these are two key contracts. Last contracts were three years.

Considering we’re probably two years away from a state takeover of the district, it doesn’t make sense to offer anything more than a two-year contract.

There is no time for an outside search at this point- the Board of Education waited too long. Even if an outsider were brought in, it would be too little time to assess, manage and implement strategy as well as earn the trust of the community, the staff and the students.

Before any contract is offered to Ms. Ward, who has little to show for her last 6 years at the helm, the board should consider the existing staff with superintendent’s licenses and ask them each to come in and give a 20-minute presentation on what their vision would be, what changes they would make, and what they think they could achieve in the next two years.

The possible candidates (if I missed anyone- let me know)

  • Robert Buchheim- the newest guy on the list, he’s the “Executive Director Curriculum.” Probably doesn’t know the district well enough.
  • Sheila Burton- the current “Associate Superintendent”
  • Erin Dooley- Principal of Stivers- the only school in the district with an A grade.
  • David Lawrence- “Chief Of School Innovation” I’ve written about him before.
  • David White- left the district for Trotwood after being offered a raise, he was the turnaround guy at Belmont and then Ponitz. Knows the district.

The board is scared of the “optics” of a white lead board firing a very well liked African American superintendent. Burton and Lawrence qualify for minority status. Lawrence is a Dunbar grad. Sadly, it’s 2016 and we’re still talking about the color of people’s skin.

Either way, the board could use the ideas that are presented to sharpen their direction of the district, which still seems to struggle with getting focused on what is really important.

It’s not police in schools, it’s not suspension rates, it’s not computers, it’s about providing an excellent education and learning environment in every building.

 

Pay for performance in public ed is here- for education mercenaries

Much is being debated about the metrics for “pay for performance” in public education. How much of the weight should be given to classroom evaluation and skills vs. performance of students.

But there is a new brand of education professional these days- the “education mercenary” – who promises to do a turnaround and may or may not stick around as the next carrot gets dangled.

David White falls into that category. After success at a charter, he was brought in to “settle down” Belmont High school 4 years ago. He was allowed to hand pick his lieutenants, and brought discipline issues to a halt in a building that some had called a “jungle.” Other Dayton Public Schools principals weren’t too pleased knowing that he was getting a $15K premium just to walk in the door. He moved to Ponitz Career School, last year, ostensibly as a reward for his performance at Belmont, but one year later, he’s heading to Trotwood, where supposedly he was offered a better compensation package.

There are also mercenary superintendents available as hired guns for hire. Dr. Kurt Stanic came to Dayton as a mercenary, and while he was generally merciful in his compensation requirements (which were all gravy since he was already drawing his pension) he had total control of the School Board because he was there on his terms- and he never let them forget it. (This is how his buddy Bill Burgess got the no-bid marketing contract without a peep from the board.)

With the new common core standards scaring the hell out of administrators and school boards, the value of these hired guns with promises of progress but zero commitment to stay, are going up. Falling performance indicators will make it increasingly harder to pass school levies and justify superintendents’ pay packages. White told me that he believed common core standards will cause a wave of superintendent retirements as old dogs realize that their old tricks are about to be revealed for what they are.

One thing that truly reeks about the mercenary model, is that superb, loyal, high performers like Erin Dooley at Stivers, aren’t paid what they deserve unless they leave what they’ve built or threaten to leave. At some point, superstars need to be granted bonuses based on their steady performance, to stop them from following in the footsteps of Mr. White.

Every one of us knows that all teachers aren’t equal. As a student, I knew who was great and who wasn’t, although it wasn’t always instantly recognizable. There are teachers, principals and even custodians who are exceptional at setting the example for students, it’s time for all of us to realize it. If there is one thing I’ve never understood about unions it’s their willingness to fight for members who their peers know don’t cut it. I understand that eliminating biases of all types from the workplace is admirable, but I’d also like to eliminate mediocrity and the idea that a teacher’s value is somehow related to years on the job. The real superstars, won’t stick around long enough to get longevity pay if we don’t recognize their value.

Dayton Public Schools untold stories: Thurgood Marshall HS

I think what bothers me most about the no-bid contract that Dayton Public Schools awarded to an out-of-town “PR Firm” is the stories that aren’t being told. It’s not just the PR firm that’s failed- it’s the leadership of the system that has allowed the public to hear all the bad things and practically none of the good.

Believe it or not- there are good things happening in Dayton Public Schools. Not that it’s been that way all the time, but starting with Superintendent Kurt Stanic with his buck-stops-here demeanor, DPS stopped being a citywide babysitting service and started focusing on discipline and learning in every building.

New principals were installed across the district, and although scores remained lower than we’d like- they’ve started to slowly move up. Considering the number of special needs students, the poverty rate and the mobility rate (many DPS students change schools every few years) the transformation has been pretty dramatic to those who know more than what they read in the Dayton Daily News, or just rely on the State Report Card.

I’ve written about Principal David Lawrence a few times on this site, today, I gave up on the idea of getting him to come in to my office to tape- and went to visit him at 12:30 in the afternoon (it’s Sunday) at TM- he’d been there since 6:30 am. In the video you’ll notice a future TM student- but, please ignore her fidgeting, she’s 7.

We talk about what’s changed at Thurgood Marshall, what they are proud of, the makeup of the student body, test scores and what makes a difference in the student success.

I’ve been out to TM several times during the school day- and have also spoken to students there. I’ve been to their football and basketball games- I’ve seen the transformation taking place. There is a story unfolding there- and this short video does little to tell it, but at least it’s a start.

David Lawrence isn’t the only principal working with a team of talented educators in the district, there are many others. David White at Belmont is transforming what was a zoo, into a disciplined school, Devon Berry at Ruskin is implementing a community based school based on the work of Geoffry Canada and the Harlem Children’s zone, Erin Dooley has turned Stivers into a nationally recognized school of performing arts- and that’s just a start.

Unfortunately, it’s easy for the haters to ignore these transformations because the district does a horrible job of tooting its own horn and the Dayton Daily News is the best grave digger on the planet.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to share some more of these stories over the next few months.

Dayton Public Schools has changed

As he’s getting ready to slip out of town, Dr. Kurt Stanic is owed some accolades. If you’ve met him- you’d probably realize he’s the epitome of public servant: he does his job with passion, and doesn’t like to take the credit. While he’ll probably be remembered by most for wanting to tear down Julienne, his real legacy is the progress made at the high school level.

All of the Dayton Public School high schools are now engaging students and running tight ships. No more wild kids running the buildings- no more questions of who is in charge. Learning is taking place and the scores are bumping up.

It all starts with the principal- and Erin Dooley at Stivers was the first to set things straight. It was also going on at DECA- with Tim Nealon, but as a funky joint venture- they were sort of off the radar. Next came Dooley protegee David Lawrence at Thurgood Marshall- and Marlayna Randolph at Dunbar. I predicted Lawrence’s transformational skills on this site- only to be laughed at. With Gates scholars, higher test scores, better attendance and even championship basketball teams, Thurgood Marshall is becoming a school of choice- not last resort.

Today the DDN reports on Dunbar:

The state report card released last August showed the Wolverines moving up to continuous improvement, the equivalent of a C. That’s after a decade of mostly Fs. The 600-pupil school also improved in every subject area on the Ohio Graduation Test from the previous year.

So what’s different at Dunbar these days?

“We’re really trying to focus on student engagement, doing a lot of activities centered around making (lessons) relevant to real-life situations for them,” said Principal Marlayna Randolph, who’s in her second year in the job.

via Dunbar’s classroom standing on the rise.

The progress is happening with the same student population, the same teachers for the most part, and some would say the new buildings are helping too. While new paint and walls do send a message, I’m betting that new buildings are only a small part of the answer (although the security systems and monitoring are much better than in old buildings).

The real change has been leadership- from Stanic on down. Even the school board has a new found belief in goal setting and management by objective. While the board still can’t figure out the advantages of open government and properly holding meetings and doing bids properly, they do understand that you have to let the Superintendent exercise his power.

The last remaining problem is image. Busing was finally totally over last week- after 40 years of failure. The damage was done- and its effects will probably stay with us the same as a limb amputation (it caused economic segregation to replace racial segregation within the district). The only thing that can undo it is for all the schools to have Stivers like performance, and to restore the perception of safety in Dayton proper.

A tall order.

Dr. Stanic has named Lori Ward as his replacement. The true mark of any leader in my book is how well they’ve prepared their successors. If Ward accomplishes half of what Stanic did in his short reign, Dayton Public Schools will be taken seriously as a system of choice.