Dayton Public Preparatory to launch Fall 2018

Starting Tuesday, April 3 2018 at noon, an alternative charter to Dayton Public Schools will begin accepting preliminary applications from parents of Dayton Public Schools students, and parents who have been choosing charters and parochial schools to avoid the constant chaos of DPS.

There will also be an area for DPS employees to privately register their interest in joining this new soundly run alternative to DPS.

When the sign ups cross over 60% of students, and 75% of staff, the alternative charter will ask the state board of education to place them as the primary operators of the district, accepting full responsibility for the failings of existing leadership to bring order to the district.

Dayton Public Preparatory Logo

The leadership team started organizing Dayton Public Preparatory as an alternative in the wake of the non-action to remove Dr. Adil Baguirov from the board even after his residency was clearly in violation of all board policy. The ridiculous glowing review of former Superintendent Rhonda Corr just previous to their buyout of Corr moved the timeline up from fall of 2019 to fall of 2018. Further actions, including the turmoil caused by incompetent communications surrounding the eventual announcement of the closing of one school was the final straw.

The team behind Dayton Public Preparatory is proposing a totally different approach to education in Dayton, very similar to the proposals in the video that I released in December of 2016: “There ain’t no “F” in Dayton”- to include only 2 bell times, transportation for all students at all grade levels, year round schools, longer school days with much shorter instructional time per-day, and higher expectations and standards. Details will be released on the sign up page on April 3rd.

The new organization will essentially take-over the existing district, with state support, instead of the previous interventions with power handed to other organizations that have no more experience than the failing districts had before- see Cleveland, Youngstown and Elyria for examples of State failure to improve schools via intervention.

While the organization will not have a public school board, much like the Dayton income tax supported “Learn to Earn” folks, they will fully comply with all requirements of the laws and rules governing public school systems, and will have a three year window to successfully move the district from failing to Annual Yearly Progress with a D average.

All union contracts will be honored, however, instead of working a 1080 hour school year, employees will be expected to work a standard 2080 hour year for the same pay. If the district moves to a C average, all pay will increase 25% for anyone at the building level. Administrators pay will remain the same.

The leadership team includes highly skilled and proven executives that are well known to the community. The superintendent will have had over 20 years experience in the district, the head of business operations and HR also has over 15 years experience with the district as well as at a much larger district and the DPP treasurer never had the turmoil the current treasurer has had in her last 2 years.

This new district management team promises top to bottom cultural transformation of the district, with in service training beginning in July of 2018 with school to open on the year round full-time schedule in August. This will not be public education like any other in the United States, it is set to be a new model for urban and

Their names will be released to all who have signed up as interested after the signups reach 5,000 students and 400 teachers, which is expected to take less than 2 weeks.

Sign-up at https://daytonpublicprep.org after noon on April 3rd.

There has been a major commitment of funding from several national educational foundations based on the boldness of this plan, totaling pledges of $62.3 million dollars to date. Additional funding is still being sourced and some is contingent at how quickly the new organization reaches its sign-up goals. A local philanthropist has been briefed and is willing to step in with additional funding anonymously, to match the funding of national organizations dollar for dollar when this team gets state approval.

National backers include:

Full disclosure, my firm has been involved in talks with the founders of this organization since January of 2017, 2 weeks after I released the video. We have not been compensated for our work thus far, but, have been awarded a contract to begin when the threshold for announcement is reached. The contract is for the same amount we bid to manage DPS marketing in 2017, but were rejected by the board and district for the highest bidder.

 

 

 

DPS school closing task force- first meeting

This time, there were chairs for an audience. Didn’t stop Channel 7 and the paper for claiming they were the ones who stopped the first meeting (by leaving the room). All the TV stations were there. Noticeably absent was Dr. Robert Walker, board member. But DPS was there in force- Dr. Lolli, Dr. Burton, Treasurer Hiwot Abraha, head of facilities Richard Reyford, and of course the PR dept. Marsha Bonhart and Dr. Venita Kelley.

The district even filmed it.

I did too- and made a little video of the pertinent parts about the open meetings laws:

thumbnail of PRR – School Facilities Task Force 2 – 1.24.18

Future Think, formerly DeJong-Healy offered a summation of their study on enrollment projections

I wasn’t given a packet- but DDn reporter Jeremy Kelly offered his up for me to photograph. I later asked the district for digital copies and got scans of printouts (not ADA compliant)- which I am sharing here.

I took photos of the votes on the white board. I’m posting those. Each member was given two dots- to help rank what they thought was most important.

The task force added two members thanks to pressure from the NAACP- Loretta Williams- their education director, and another minister. At the NAACP meeting the minister to people ratio was probably 20-1. When you consider that both African American school board members are ministers- we now have 3 ministers on this task force- and still not a single parent, student, or non-affiliated community member.

The task force asked for more data- and all of it was from the district- once again, proving that this is an official committee of the district- fully required to be open meetings compliant. The information that they were asking for wasn’t rocket science- and should have already been gathered and available to the internal administrators of DPS- who should have been able to do this themselves- because that’s what they are paid to do.

However, it’s pretty obvious from Dr. Burton’s first spreadsheet presentation in December- right up to yesterday, that she’s a blithering idiot pretending to be smart.

The slides with the building costs per student are all incredibly incendiary because  she includes the Jackson Center building which is housing the former Longfellow students. Something like 30 students, 3 teachers- and a whole building to heat and light. Outliers like that shouldn’t be part of your curve. Shock factor for stupid people. If you pulled that shit in a board room of professionals you’d be fired on the spot- after they laugh you out of the room for even presenting it.

I’ll say it again, including Dr. Tom Lasley of “Learn to Earn” is like GM inviting Fiat Chrysler in to decide what plants to close. The man has his own tax funded, un-regulated school board, that hands out public tax dollars to private companies to take DPS students away from the district for substandard pre-schools.

This is a WTF inclusion on a task force that for the most part, may be smart people, but, when you get down to the reality of it all- we pay professional administrators in DPS to do this work, including our interim Superintendent, and have a school board who we elect, to make these decisions. This is a total abdication of their responsibilities and handing off public decisions to private enterprise. Which, of course, is what caused all these issues in the first place- since DPS has been losing students to less-regulated, charter schools, which for the most part- either perform on-par or much below DPS.

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We’ve been there, done that when it comes to performance

The task force is “studying building closures” – a facilities decision, yet are asking a lot of questions about school performance and quality. This is outside of their assignment, but what would normally be done by an accountable superintendent. Here is 96 pages of the same bullshit from the “Council of the Great City Schools” from 2002 talking about fixing the schools. No need for more study- what’s been missing is competent leadership that can restore faith, order and competence to the community.

When it comes to facilities and performance, now that the only people who will benefit are the people who have designs on acquiring the closed buildings after 2 years of vacancy for pennies on the dollar, or those that receive income tax dollars from the employees- we have to realize that the buildings, the locations of the buildings and the where the students live that go to those buildings have NOTHING to do with the educational performance in the buildings. Educational performance is people- buildings are just a tool. Oakwood does fine with 100 year old buildings, we could too. This task force should be limited purely to operational efficiencies- which mean costs of transportation, costs of keeping the buildings open, and how to best fit the students we have into the least number of buildings for efficient operation. We bus kids no matter what. Walking is so last century.

The obvious answers on reducing operating costs is to close Valerie- because it’s an old building, shut down Longfellow at Jackson Center, sell off HQ and the building across the street. Reduce HQ staff costs which are among the highest in the state. Move back to the old HQ on First Street- or lease back a tiny bit of Ludlow from it’s new owner. Sell off the vacant land that the district is still maintaining and then temporarily close EJ Brown which is a mess. Make a decision on if you are a PK-8, PK-6, 7-12. or 9-12 or whatever- configuration and stick to it.

Then aggressively work to bring kids back into the district over the next two years. Ask everyone in the district making more than $100K a year to take a pay cut to $100K with bonuses if they bring kids back to the district- and if they get “A” grades in annual progress. Put your money where you mouth is.

thumbnail of PRR – School Facilities Task Force 1 – 1.24.18

DPS School closing task force handout- glaringly incomplete

The agenda for tours should tell people something- first three buildings are Valerie, Meadowdale Elementary and Wogaman. Two are in Harrison Township and pay no Dayton income taxes.

The reality of this whole exercise is that the people we elect, and they pay, to run our schools are being subverted by an ad hoc organization with no accountability to the people of the city of Dayton.

Our new “interim superintendent” is handing over this process to City Manager Shelly Dickstein and the people can sit in the back without any input as these outsiders overrule home rule.

The entire school board should be recalled for abdication of duty, but since Ohio makes it almost impossible to do, we’re stuck with what we have.

Reverend Harris and Mohamed Al-Hamdani are driven by other factors, mostly their own egos.

Al-Hamdani has already been rewarded with a job in the county building- working for Russ Joseph in the County Clerks office. This hasn’t yet been made public. Note, Board member Sheila Taylor works in the City Clerks office where Russ Joseph used to be her boss. When the local party controls two members via their patronage jobs, we’re already in trouble.

This task force can only bring more trouble.

The board needs to start interviewing for a real superintendent, and figure out who can lead this district, because right now- it’s not them, it’s not the interim superintendent and it certainly isn’t the staff, who sprung this on the community at the last minute.

  • Dayton Public Schools closing task force priorities
    The task forces’s voting on priorities
  • Dayton Public Schools building closing task force guiding principles
    Dayton Public Schools building closing task force guiding principles

 

 

 

Issue 9 campaign finance accounting gets an “F”

When I wrote the post back before the election about where the issue 9 money came from, I was flabbergasted.

Not only by the amount of money they spent and where it came from, but the average donation was higher than most federal campaigns. The average was $1873. Issue 9 raised the City of Dayton income tax to 2.5% and promised millions of dollars to a quasi-public organization with no voter oversight- the “Preschool Promise” and “Learn to Earn” people.

thumbnail of Neigborhoods-for-Daytons-Future-2016On the reporting deadline, “Neighborhoods for Dayton’s Future” they said they had a balance on hand of $94,148.76

I waited for a post campaign report. It never appeared.

I waited for a 2016 annual report- it never appeared.

I wrote Jan Kelly, director of the Montgomery County Board of Elections and asked where it was and got the following response:

David,

Good afternoon.  You raised a question as to whether or not a local PAC (Neighborhoods for Dayton’s Future) has been compliant with reporting requirements under campaign finance law. The PAC filed a 2016 Pre-General report as they were participating in promoting an issue during last falls’ General Election cycle. They did not file a Post-General report. They did file an Annual Report. Our campaign Finance Department has not yet audited all 2016 reports. All 2016 reports are scheduled to be audited over the summer including all PAC’s. If a PAC failed to file a required report, at the conclusion of the those audits, letters will be sent to the Ohio Election Commission listing all PAC’s which are not in compliance. We expect that all audits will be complete by the end of July and letters to the Elections Commission would follow shortly thereafter. I hope explanation this answers your question.

Happy Memorial Day.

Repeated calls to Ms. Kelly went unanswered as to where the annual was. Finally, on Friday, I contacted David Landon who is the R in charge of campaign finance reporting and he got me a copy of the annual. It was 2 pages long.

thumbnail of 2016 Annual Neighborhoods for Dayton’s Future PAC Campaign Finance Report

2016 Annual Neighborhoods for Dayton’s Future PAC Campaign Finance Report (click to download)

It showed only one expense in the period between the pre-election filing and the annual: $1051.33 to Code Credit Union on 12/30/16 for a “Visa PMT” – it never said what the payment was for.

Let’s do basic math- $94,148.76 – $1051.33 = $93,097.43

Which should be the balance on hand, only slight problem. They start out with a balance on hand of $51,969.67, meaning $42,179.09 was unaccounted for.

And you wonder why I didn’t trust the PreSchool Promise/Learn To Earn quasi-governmental school board with our tax dollars?

We need an immediate accounting of where the Political Action Committee money went.

 

Dumb, dumber and Dayton Public Schools

Last week Dayton Public Schools launched their enrollment campaign- done by the Ohlmann Group, the highest bidder. We mentioned it: If this is the best DPS can do.

thumbnail of Ohlmand Group Invoice #1

Radio invoice

thumbnail of Ohlmand Group Invoice #2

Outdoor invoice

They spent $20k in media, but were supplied invoices from The Ohlmann Group- not the invoices from the media outlets. Considering their contract says they are only going to mark their invoices up 10% – DPS has no clue if they were paying 10% over net or gross- because, they don’t have anyone there who knows anything about buying media. The way radio and TV stations bill ad agencies as a middle man, there is the gross amount- and a 15% agency discount. It’s all horseshit these days – since the media outlets long ago hired huge sales teams- and even offer “free” production of ads. That’s why you see the “pan and scan” with a voice over ads- over and over for local businesses.

We asked for the DPS instructions to Ohlmann for this campaign and the invoice for the “creative” but those have not been released.

The real issue is that right after the campaign launched, DPS got hit with a protest over a 4th grader being put in handcuffs. DPS should have consulted their marketing/pr firm for an appropriate response, but, instead, stood mute as people asked questions. Instead of taking the campaign down- they continued with their “Great things are happening” while the public is hearing- we put kids in handcuffs. We’ve yet to see anyone from Ohlmann at a board meeting.

But, what we do see is a circus. At the last review session, where we asked at the beginning if they should be continuing with an ineligible board meeting, Board President Dr. Walker claimed they knew nothing of it (lie). Considering I’d informed responsible parties within the district, by continuing, they violated their own rules.

They discussed, and wasted the first 90 minutes of another one of their epic meetings – the handcuff situation, the “newcomers academy” or “international academy” and what to do with the historic Longfellow, without an iota of research, historical reference or input from their overpaid staff.

The handcuff issue was actually old news. This happened last fall. To have it come up now- just reeks of incompetent messaging management. The proper response is a simple one, instead, they did their best to imitate United Airlines.

On the international school- we’ve been there done that. First was the ESL school, Miami Chapel, and then, when that closed and was torn down, they put 900 kids over at Patterson Kennedy Elementary and it was like the united nations. Of course, institutional knowledge isn’t valued in DPS- most of the people who know this stuff have been shown the door, and the rest- well, they are ignored by the new superintendent and crew- who think they know it all and everyone who works there is expendable except them.

As to Longfellow. This conversation was as confused as could be. Why we need an entire building to house approximately 60 kids is confusing already. But, the boards lack of knowledge about historic structures, real estate development, real estate disposal, and preservation is epic. However, they throw out all kinds of possible “solutions” without any research or supporting documentation. Why they waste the public’s time with their wild ass ideas is incompetence on display. This time, it was costing them at least several hundred dollars an hour, as their attorney from Subashi & Wildermuth, Tabitha Justice (that’s really her name- a lawyer named Justice) had arrived to be part of the following executive session and sat through the clown show while her meter was running. Not a single mention of how the board disposed of the old Hawthorne School, or any discussion of Historic Tax credits. Of course since they fired their property manager in the November putsch, they don’t even have someone to assign this to.

Then came Dr. Hazel Rountree with a “presentation” based on her visit to Cleveland. We were assuming Cleveland Ohio, but the first site she pulled up was Cleveland Tennessee. She was so excited about the ads their agency had done, and was going to show them to us, but the district filtering software wasn’t allowing it. She wanted to get the agency from Cleveland who did these ads to give the district a quote. Does that mean they’re ready to fire The Ohlmann Group already? That Hazel didn’t know how to give a presentation using PowerPoint doesn’t give us much hope for our kids. There is a microsite for the “Get 2 School- you can make it” campaign, but as to what video she wanted to show, we’ll never know. BTW- while Hazel was fumbling her website- Superintendent Rhonda Corr who should have know immediately that Hazel was on the wrong site- sat on her thumbs and let Hazel twist in the wind.

However, if you want to see the difference between a district doing competent marketing and DPS’s failure- all you have to do is go look at the Cleveland Public Schools YouTube page and see how many videos they are posting and compare it to DPS.

There are ways to run a school board meeting, and a good superintendent wouldn’t allow school board members to turn it into a carnival barkers midway. Corr has no concept of control or command- and often sits there like a dazed bystander. Someone should show her video of how Kurt Stanic ran a meeting- or better yet, bring Stanic back.

As a final insult, the agency DPS hired to help them, Ohlmann, is spending $125K on media to promote the pre-school promise for Learn to Earn. And, after reading my firms proposal on how to market DPS, Learn to Earn is copying our playbook according to the Dayton Daily news:

The Preschool Promise board approved a large marketing plan this week, including plans to hire a vendor to run a “field campaign” for grassroots outreach in Dayton. Board member and former Dayton mayor Clay Dixon said the marketing approach “is of the utmost importance.”

“That is actually how we’ll go out in the community, shoulder to shoulder, eyeball to eyeball, with the parents to make sure they are aware of the program, aware of what we do to get those kids into one of our quality programs,” Dixon said.

The board’s request for proposals for field campaign vendors is going out this week. Lightcap said the vendor will hire people who know Dayton’s neighborhoods and can build relationships with community partners, all in an effort to connect with the families who would participate in expanded preschool.

Source: Dayton Preschool Promise: Board plans marketing blitz for public

When the Issue 9 people finally release their post election finance report- how much do you want to bet that Ohlmann either worked on the campaign or donated to it? We may never know, since the Neighborhoods for Dayton’s Future- seems to be exempt from post election or annual filing.

In the meantime, we’ve got a school board with an ineligible member, fumbling around with issues, while their lawyer racks up billable hours for sitting on her thumbs, and a union that’s ready to strike. We’ll have more on how to remove the entire school board posted soon.

Short memories. Dayton Public Schools

Summer of 2016, Dayton Public Schools thought they needed a tax levy.

Then came Mayor Whaley- who needed a tax levy even more. For some reason, the board rolled over and played dead.

They’d changed Superintendents, bringing in the rookie Rhonda Corr to replace Superintendent Lori Ward- who they had to spend big bucks to get her to go away. September 14, 2016, they find out, Ward had pulled a rabbit out of a hat- getting the district an A in Annual Yearly Progress- the first A they’d had on a State report card in decades. This averted state takeover. It also gave Corr and crew breathing room.

But, since Corr didn’t like some of Ward’s people- she had a housecleaning- ostensibly a Reduction in Force, to get rid of opposition, and so she could justify bringing in her own team of highly paid assistants. The board, under leadership of Dr. Adil Baguirov, claimed the district was short about $4.5 million- although no one could provide real numbers. On the chopping block along with the opposition, were about 30 para-professionals (teachers aides) who were widely credited with helping get the A in AYP.

Along came Nan’s issue 9. A quarter percent increase in the city income tax. The board actually BACKED it- despite it creating a whole other quasi-public school board for pre-school only. These “Learn to Earn” folks even got to pay themselves big money- instead of the $5k a year the board members make. And, btw- get $4.5 million a year- without any stipulations on where it goes- charters, private schools, churches, as long as they are doing pre-school. There is a bit of a conflict of interest here, but, we’ll save that for another post that’s coming.

That levy, btw- was financed with big money- although we still don’t know the full extent, since the “Neigborhoods for Dayton’s Future” PAC  that solicited the $1873 average donation still hasn’t filed their post campaign finance report.

Then the board has to finish doing Rhonda’s dirty work, buying out David Lawrence, who was Chief of School Innovation- and partially responsible for the A in AYP. They blew that buyout, but had the money to throw around.

And all of a sudden, after not buying any new full size buses since 2010, they are about to buy 30 and take 10 more on a grant. It’s an overdue $2.1 million buy. But, Dr. Adil Baguirov, who happens to be the only one who also buys trucks from the same dealers for his trucking company- all of a sudden jumps in with all the facts and figures and the district is ready to commit to long term financing of 110 buses.

The teachers union isn’t too happy. The paraprofessionals know they are toast. The deal Adil is talking about seems to have a 10 year service and maintenance contract attached- meaning the districts mechanics are probably going to lose their jobs too.

And, all of you voters are just along for the ride.

Watch the video- and don’t get fooled again.