DPS: Special meeting coming. Corr going?

In an almost unprecedented show of foresight and planning, Dayton Public Schools sent out a notice of a special meeting yesterday at 1:44 pm.

In accordance with Section 3313.16 of the Ohio Revised Code and File: BD of the Handbook of Policies, Rules & Regulations of the Board, I hereby call for a special meeting of the Board of Education of the Dayton City School District, Montgomery County, Ohio, to be held on Tuesday August 22, 2017 at 5:30 p.m. Room 6S-115 of the Administration Building, located at 115 S. Ludlow St., Dayton, OH 45402.

The purpose of the meeting is to allow the Board to vote on recommendations from the Policy Committee. Following the vote, the board is expected to go into executive session to discuss matters of personnel and the sale and/or purchase of real estate.

The media is being advised of this meeting in compliance with the Ohio Sunshine Law.

More than likely, the discussion of real estate sales is Baguirov’s last chance to sneak a deal by the stooges before we have a new superintendent. Any action on the Patterson Kennedy site on Wyoming without a proper auction at this point should be investigated as criminal.

As to personnel, the only thing to discuss is if Superintendent Rhonda Corr resigns, is fired for cause, or is just plain bought out. This board is embarrassed by the teachers no confidence vote, yet doesn’t want to seem as if they are “reacting.”

Let’s go back to last month- when I called for them all to R-E-S-I-G-N, at the business meeting. Baguirov responded by asking the auditor up, but, then Corr called HR chief Judy Spurlock up to respond to my claims of mass resignation. If you watch carefully at the beginning, as Spurlock begins to hobble on crutches with a open laptop in hand, I go to her to offer to carry the laptop for her and was rebuffed. Then she stands at the podium and says we’ve only lost 93 teachers this year- and 89 this year.

So we went and tried to build a spreadsheet from the HR reports over the last year from Board Docs- but, they didn’t post the spreadsheets. So we did a public records request- and had a CPA analyze the data.

Comprehensive for School Year 2017.

The breakdown is neither pretty, or sustainable. Total resignations of staff is 600. Workforce of around 2400- which means 25% turnover. No professional organization can survive that.

Spurlock said 89 teachers left.

Our count: 187.

Here is the break down by position:

Adjunct4
Adjunct staff11
Administration30
Clerical18
District support staff5
Mental health tech3
Nutrition2
Nutrition srevices7
Occupational theraphy assistant1
Occupational therapy1
Operations29
Paraprofessional59
Psychologist2
Security resource officer6
Teacher187
Temporary162
Transportation73
Total600

And, of course, I’m also including the entire spreadsheet. working Human Resources COMPREHENSIVE 06-30-17   

Because, Rhonda, these are F-A-C-T-S.

Note: we had to correct a lot of issues- likely, keystroke errors, with names not quite matching. When we broke things down by schools- school names didn’t match, etc. If the board knew how to run an organization, they’d have asked for this report themselves, complete with pivot tables on which schools lost the most, and tried to interpret what’s been happening. But, no, even taking Spurlock’s word of half the true amount, didn’t set off alarm bells. If Corr isn’t gone by Wednesday, maybe a judge will see past their incompetence and criminal neglect of duty to manage our district properly.

 

The Elephant in the Dayton Public School Board meeting last night

I didn’t speak at public comment.

Neither did DEA chief David Romick.

Why speak to a board that doesn’t listen, doesn’t respond, and brought on the chaos and confusion that has ruled their last year- the reign of Rookie Superintendent Rhonda Corr?

The union voted almost unanimously to send a message – no confidence in the school board, no confidence in Rhonda Corr. There was no discussion of this. Just a lot of glad handing themselves and passing out participation trophies to each other for having a first day where kids got picked up and delivered by buses that ran on time. Seriously- every other district in the country can do this, only the worst district in the state can’t get this right.

So what should have happened?

After the vote to accept the contract, the issue of the no confidence vote should have been brought up.

The board should have responded with a public vote of confidence or no confidence in the superintendent- so the public can know where they stand.

Although this can be done in executive session, this is a litmus test vote to let the people they represent know how they feel about the performance of the superintendent. It’s a hard decision- but a necessary one. Sticking your heads in the sand is not an option. A no confidence vote is a serious issue considering the entire DEA is half the districts workforce- and without them- there is no district.

Another scenario- John McManus, the only functional member of the board, should have said immediately after the ratification of the DEA contract, “while we are patting ourselves on the back for settling this contract at the last possible minute, may I remind the board that there are 10 other bargaining units, and none of those are settled. Our Superintendent, although claiming to be a master negotiator, cost us over $150K to Huffmaster for nothing. We let this happen. I am hearby promising to tender my conditional resignation to the new board members when they take office in the spirit of healing and recognition of the failures of this board in the past year to guide this organization in a way that would have earned the respect of the professionals we employ.

I would also ask the other two board members, Dr. Walker and Ms. Taylor to join me in this move.

To the four existing board members who have earned this vote of no confidence, I ask that you pledge to resign the day after the election results are finalized and make way for the new board immediately so this process of healing can proceed at the fastest possible pace.

As to the no-confidence vote in the Superintendent, I voice my own opinion of her performance and ask that each of you do that now. It’s time to clarify to those we represent what we think of her performance in light of this move by the DEA. If there aren’t four votes of confidence in her favor, I ask that we work to negotiate her separation from this district to be effective immediately, and Dr. Lolli be asked to serve as interim superintendent until the new board is in place.”

Of course, since McManus is the quintessential southern gentleman, we can’t expect him to go out on a limb and do the right thing.

As to the other 6, they have no clue what the right thing is.

I will be organizing a candidates forum soon for the 7 challengers. I don’t think there is any reason to give Mr. Lacey an opportunity to speak at this forum, since it’s been quite obvious that he’s had plenty of time to speak- including last night, and didn’t. The voters want change, and there is no reason to even consider his re-election.

If you disagree with not allowing him to participate- please rewatch this video:

 

Rhonda Corr now drives a bus

On Sunday, Rhonda Corr was praying and blaming her board members for slowing the process.

Corr, who was on her way to church to “pray for resolving the issue,” said the documented struggles of the district and Dayton Education Association negotiations were heavy burdens to bear….

“I’m going to be doing some cold-calling to my board members to see how much they’ll support me in what I want to propose,” Corr said.

Source: Dayton Public Schools head says deal ‘could get done’

This morning, she was blaming her staff- specifically, board attorney Jyllian Bradshaw for the protracted negotiations.

Corr said members of her own negotiating team were against the switch to a two-year contract proposal, but she said she overruled them as lead negotiator, in an effort to get a deal done.“

“The former negotiating team (led by district attorney Jyllian Bradshaw) had five and a half months, and no movement was made,” Corr said. “The superintendent was called in and did it in nine days.”

Source: Dayton teachers ratify 2-year deal

Since this board brought Rhonda Corr on as superintendent, the district has moved from one crisis to another. The amount of chaos is exponential compared to anything the district has ever seen.

But, lets stick to the facts: The board hires and fires the superintendent, the treasurer, the auditor. The attorney is 50/50 split.

Rhonda, if she was the leader she thinks she is- should have been able to tell that her negotiating team wasn’t doing their job well before the final hour. Blaming Bradshaw is nothing but a hit and run. If you are wondering why Dr. Markay Winston, Corr’s handpicked senior leadership left– it was because she was tired of getting hit by Corr’s bus.

The no confidence vote by 800 plus teachers in both Corr and the Board is a good indication of how bad things have been. That Corr is taking credit for something that should have been done months ago, before she lost 100 teachers, is grounds for termination of her contract for cause. And the word is, that Treasurer Hiwot Abraha was the one who refused to certify the contract for 3 years because of her fiscal forecast- not because of anything Rhonda did.

This district will remain in chaos until a new board majority takes office in January, or earlier if anyone has any common sense.

The real question is, if someone polled this board, would they still publicly back their choice of Rhonda Corr? Is it time to replace her, as a token of consolation to the union who didn’t break the law by discussing the confidential negotiations a day before the final session? Can anyone in this district ever admit they made a mistake?

In the last year- the only person I’ve seen admit to being wrong, was Jyllian Bradshaw, when I called her a liar in a board meeting about the RFQ process.

Unfortunately, she’s the one who got run over by the bus today.

DPS retreat is really an excuse to hide

“Mr Esrati, we’re going to ask you to leave” said Dr. Robert Walker, president of the Dayton Board of Education at their “Board Retreat” on Saturday, June 24, 2017.

At issue was the board taking what was presented as a critical time sensitive vote, on a report from the Treasurer, Hiwot Abraha, a mere 4 days after their regularly scheduled “business meeting” on Tuesday.

Did Abraha have no clue that this was critical on Tuesday, or was this purely an attempt to slide things through without the normal scrutiny and public comment allowed at the regular board business meeting? Me thinks the latter, which is why I spoke up, and invited my ejection.

From the agenda on Board Docs:

“May I have a motion to approve the following items:
C) Purchase Requisitions
D) Resolution: Official Certificate of Estimated Resources
E) Resolution: Original Appropriation Measure for Fiscal Yer (sic) 2018”

“Subject Resolution: Original Appropriation Measure for Fiscal Year 2018

Type Information

I recommend that the Board approve the following resolution for the Original Appropriation Measure for Fiscal Year 2017.

Rationale

Section 5705.38 of the Ohio Revised Code requires the adoption and/or amendment of an Annual Appropriation Measure.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Board of Education of the Dayton City School District the following sums be and hereby are set aside and appropriated as indicated in the 2017-18 Original Appropriations.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, pursuant to Section 5705.412 of the Ohio Revised Code, the the Board President, Superintendent, and Treasurer certify that the Dayton City School District has in effect for the fiscal year 2018 the authorization to levy taxes, which, when combined with the estimated revenue from all other sources available to the district at the time of certification, are sufficient to provide the operating revenues necessary to enable the district to maintain all personnel and programs for all the days set forth in its adopted school calendar for the current fiscal year.”

Lee and Baguirov were absent, and Sheila Taylor abstained from this vote (using good judgement) as Walker, Lacey, Rountree and McManus voted just like this wasn’t anything different than normal Standard Operating Procedure. According to the records on Board Docs, Taylor also abstained from the Superintendents recommendations.

Note, in the Board Policy Manual, page 34, this retreat actually had instructions:

EVALUATION OF SCHOOL BOARD OPERATIONAL PROCEDURES
The Board plans and carries through an annual appraisal of its functioning as a board. Evaluation is held in the month of June, or during a regularly scheduled Board retreat, with no other items on the agenda with all Board members present. This appraisal considers the broad realm of relationships and activities inherent in Board responsibilities.

thumbnail of Auction Resolution revised

PDF- click to enlarge or download

This wasn’t the only issue that they were going to vote on, nor was it the only thing the public should be informed of. An odd RESOLUTION TO AUCTION PROPERTY AND GOODS was included, without any specifics being given. This could be anything from extra desks to the real estate on Wyoming near MVH and UD, the site of the former Patterson Kennedy Elementary School, that this blog featured in my post and video “Dirty Deals Done Dirt Cheap”. Of course, I wasn’t still at the meeting when this was discussed, but how can a board vote to approve something as unspecific as this? And, why on a Saturday morning retreat, instead of the business meeting?

There is no other school board that meets as often, as long, or does more to disrespect the public than this one. The sheer number of meetings and length, force people who want to be involved or serve as checks and balances to go to ridiculous measures to track and follow. The Open Meetings laws of Ohio, known as the Sunshine Laws, unfortunately don’t even have a provision to stop this kind of obfuscation of the public business, but maybe they should.

While I stated they are breaking the law, it barely matters, because the Sunshine laws have the least amount of teeth for punishing misbehaving public bodies that could possibly written into law. Think of them more like a 20 year old cat with one tooth- not a tiger. However, one parent was so incensed by Saturdays actions that she’s ready to file a pro se action on Monday and is looking for affected citizens to join her in the suit. She’s had legal help in formulating the argument. Please message [email protected] if you want to participate.

Also note, seven more teacher resignations since Tuesday. How much longer is this board going to whistle Dixie while a contract isn’t put in place? Some observers have said that this boards actions, from the firing of former Superintendent Lori Ward, Treasurer Craig Jones, the hiring of the outsider, rookie, Rhonda Corr, to the strife of the RIF, to the payoff of David Lawrence, to the failure to negotiate, is all part of a plan to decimate the district and force State takeover- giving the Republicans in the State House their petri dish for replacing regulated public schools with charters city wide- much like what happened in New Orleans after Katrina. It’s a Betsy DeVos wet dream come true.

In other business, why is Ron Lee, with being absent so many times that he couldn’t vote on the Dunbar Coaching choice, still allowed on the board? The State Law, is 90 days, however, in a normal school board, this could mean 2 meetings in a row, however since Dayton meets almost 2x a week, maybe there should be a tougher standard. Of course, this part of the law is what would be used to send Dr. Adil Baguirov off the board for non-residency, something this board refuses to do.

The Darran Powell Question
From the board policy document pg 120:

Reconsideration
No question decided by the Board will be raised again during the same school year except upon a motion to reconsider, made at the same or next Board meeting. Only a member who voted with the prevailing side may move to reconsider a motion that has been adopted. A majority vote of the entire membership is necessary to reconsider an action that has been taken.

Other than the new school year may technically start in July, by having this rushed meeting, and it not coming up, there can be no revote now on the hiring of Dunbar football coach Darran Powell, who was not hired last Tuesday. His petition for a revote now has 1547 signatures and 399 comments.

Final word: At least a few board members are beginning to see the sheer insanity of this “organization” that can’t get its business done according to schedule. Watch for future developments.

thumbnail of Superintendent’s Update fixed for display

The kind of information that should be given at every meeting.

Also note, much of the “Superintendents presentation” – which has information of the type that should be given at EVERY meeting, shows some troublesome stats- like declining graduation rates, poor 3rd grade reading scores, and horrible enrollment stats for the coming year, despite the best efforts of The Ohlmann Group with their premium priced contract.

Read it and weep.

DPS strategy: Meeting fatigue

DPS TV runs a "we're hiring crawl" while a teacher resigns, listing all her issues with the district

Don’t run a hiring promo crawl over a teachers resignation speech.

No other school board meets as much and does as little as the Dayton Public Board of Education.

Their agendas confuse the members, aren’t mobile friendly, provide almost zero usable information, and lead to massive confusion.

They have a “Parliamentarian,” Joe Lacey, who is a member of the board, which is far from ideal:

If the parliamentarian is a member of the assembly, that person has the same rights as other members, but should not exercise those rights to maintain impartiality, similar to the impartiality that is required of the chairman.[12] In other words, the parliamentarian should not be making motions, speaking in debate, or voting.[12]

Source: Parliamentarian (consultant) – Wikipedia

This is only a part of the problem. But, at the end of the last board meeting, held on a Wednesday night (not the normal Tuesday- which makes problems for Mr. McManus who works second shift in Columbus) when “New business” came up- it wasn’t business at all- just speeches by the board. Rambling on about what you did the last week, while hourly employees wait is not in the best interest of the general public.

There are a million ways to run meetings. However, when a board of directors is meeting to review and guide an organization with a leader they’ve chosen to do a job, shouldn’t the leader do most of the talking? Explaining what the district is doing, why, and how its performance is improving? How initiatives are progressing, reviewing metrics? Updating on the status of directives she is given by the board? Never a public mention of posting the position of “Executive Director of Communications” at any meeting, but the posting was up and changed this week.

Nothing like that happens at DPS board meetings.

What an agenda should look like is something I’d love to show this board, but, since they refuse to investigate the eligibility of Dr. Adil Baguirov to be on the board, (he’s lived outside the district since November of 2015) I think the first order of business is to show this board the door.

Which brings us to the mysterious Friday morning meeting to review the 5 year projections of the Treasurer. Why is this not being conducted at a normal public meeting, on a scheduled Tuesday night should be the first question? Why did we show up with a video camera? Because we knew something was up. We’ll post the entire meeting soon. But, what was up is of more interest to us- I own the ad agency that was the low bidder on the contract to do district marketing– and have been hyper critical of the crappy expensive campaign done by the highest bidder and winner of the RFQ process. So what happened? Superintendent Rhonda Corr twice interrupted the board meeting with the treasurer looking for the meeting with the Ohlmann Group- who wouldn’t start their meeting with the district without board members Walker and Baguirov in the room.

That Corr didn’t know what meeting she was crashing the first time should make you wonder.

That two members of the board are meeting with a vendor- behind closed doors, should also concern you. Because, board members have no business conducting school business without a quorum in a regularly scheduled meeting- ever. We asked to film- but were told no.

There is no doubt the board needs marketing and public relations help- during the course of the Wednesday meeting when a whole big batch of teachers were resigning (a regular occurrence these days) and one of them got up to tell the board why she was leaving- the geniuses at DPS-TV were running a crawl across the bottom of the screen, asking teachers to come work for the district.

We have a technical term for this in marketing- it’s called cognitive dissonance, the rest of you would call this just stupid.

I have her “crawl segment” in the middle of my speech.

And as a final kicker, at the very end of the meeting, Rhonda Corr announces she’ll be introducing a student handbook at the beginning of next school year. This was directly out of our original marketing proposal to the district. We thought it would take over a year to create, with participation from parents, teachers, students and alumni. We thought it would be a tool to help explain the new values and focus of a newly rebranded district. So glad she’s just thought of this now, for next year. But, this is her Standard Operating Procedure by the seat of her pants. Remember the RIF? The Bus deal? Both rushed through as if a last minute afterthought. Sort of like holding a special meeting on a Friday morning, ostensibly to review a 5 year budget plan…..

 

 

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.

Dayton Public Schools. Unsafe leadership, unsafe buses

Last night the Dayton Board of Education had a “review session.” Yes, it was a Thursday night meeting, instead of a Tuesday. Yes, it forced Board Member John McManus to have to call off work. Dr. Robert Walker and Ron Lee weren’t there. They held it in the room outside the board room- at the big square table. It was at least ten minutes in before Board Member Sheila Taylor who has repeatedly told them she is hearing impaired, had to ask for microphones. The board wasn’t taping the session, but I was.

Good thing I did, because yet again, we had a train wreck.

Or, more accurately a bus wreck.

And, yet again, no one in the DPS purchasing department under Treasurer Hiwot Abraha was fired.
The last time DPS purchased full sized buses was 2010. That means our newest buses are 7 years old. According to the expert from the Ohio Board of Education, Robert Harmon, buses in Ohio last 12.5 years- and our average fleet age is 13.5. Buses usually are retired at 150,000 miles- and Dayton has 40 over 200,000 miles. Every time the state comes to inspect, DPS loses  7-10 buses at a moments notice because the buses are deemed unsafe.

Dayton has a fleet of approximately 180 buses, and should have been replacing about 30 buses each year for the last 7 years to keep the inventory in rotation. But they didn’t.

You can blame the last school board, you can blame the last administration, you can blame anyone you want, but the reality is, without operable buses, kids don’t get to school. If they don’t get to school, well, that’s how the district gets straight F’s.

Parents are frustrated. Kids are losing. The district under Rookie Superintendent is a rudderless ship. This is the leader that gave me a first marketing assignment of how to improve attendance back in July. First clue: get the kids to and from school.

If you need evidence of failure- read this email I received today from the grandmother of a student who worked in my office under YouthWorks about 4 years ago:

No Bus, No Solution!
Hi, I am (youth works student’s) grandmother an I have sent emails, called both the Superintendent of DPS and to the head of transportation about not having a bus for my grandson to come home on because at times I do not have the money for bus fare or we have no ride to pick him up! 3 times this week no afternoon bus and went through this in Oct.2016 for 2wks. I have to keep him home due to this at times since no one can let me know that yes there will be a bus this afternoon! Since (grandson) is mildly Autistic this stresses him out and I don’t like that because of DPST they are not doing their job and say the same thing over and over! I have got to the point of thinking of pulling him out of school and do homeschooling because of the busing problem. Also there was no morning bus twice the week before and we have to be outside at 5:45am for the morning bus and had stood out side for 45minutes waiting in 6 degree temperature or even colder! Even email John McManus too  last night when I saw him on the news. I don’t want to hear about what may be done in the future they need to do something now! Is there anyone who can get in touch with? I just don’t know what to do! Thank you,

Coincidence? There are no such things.

The proposal on the table was to out right buy 30 buses for 2.5 million or so. The transportation experts both said you need at least 60 this year and the same amount each of the following year. They also pointed out that buses are currently around $85K each and next year they are projected to cost $100K. So every bus you buy now, saves you $15k- or to put in a marketers terms, buy 6 and the seventh this year is free. Put another way, the costs of maintaining current buses is also getting cost prohibitive as well, never mind you are failing the kids.

But, here is where it got weird: while the transportation guys knew we needed 60 instead of thirty, no one from purchasing had a justification for the 30 number- or why we were buying the buses outright for cash. There was no decision matrix, no chosen vendor, no information about warranty, vendor, or long term strategy.

Purchasing was deaf, dumb, mute and uniformed.

Then came Dr. Adil Baguirov to the rescue. We should finance 100 buses this year, it will cost us the same this year as buying 30 outright.

Wait? Where did he get these numbers? How did he know?

And why didn’t anyone else know?

Deja vu all over again, this sounds like the CareSource deal, which only the guy who has a private business in the health care sector seemed to know all the details. And the Patterson Kennedy land offer, where again, he was the only board member who knew there had been a $900K offer on the land- that had been rejected without being presented to the Superintendent and the full board.

No, not Dr. Baguirov, the guy who claims his main business is trucking and logistics? Yup. That guy.

The only board member who buys commercial vehicles for his business knows the whole set of options better than the people we pay to manage our district transportation system and guide purchasing.

By the end of the meeting, while Treasurer Abraha can’t figure out if we are leasing or financing the 100 bus fleet- she caves to say “acquiring” – the board wants a proposal on Board docs asap so we don’t have to waive the 48 hour rule to commit to spending 8.5M on buses next Tuesday.

That’s right- we only needed 30 buses at 5:30 but by 8, it was 100 and we’re going to have yet another meeting on Monday afternoon of the finance committee to knock this deal down in a hurry.

5:05 pm today from Cherise Kidd via email:

Special Meeting – Finance Committee March 20
In accordance with Section 3313.16 of the Ohio Revised Code and File: BD of the Handbook of Policies, Rules & Regulations of the Board, I hereby call for a special meeting of the Finance Committee of the Board of Education of the Dayton City School District, Montgomery County, Ohio, to be held on Monday, March 20, 2017 at 4:00 p.m. in the 5th Floor Conference Room located at the Administration Building, 115 S. Ludlow St., Dayton, OH 45402.
The purpose of this meeting is to discuss potential financing options for the purchase of buses.
The media is being advised of this meeting in compliance with the Ohio Sunshine Law.

Respectfully,
Robert Walker, D.Min.
President
Dayton Board of Education

Not that the board can whip up the money and just run down to Joe’s School Bus lot and pick out 100 bright shiny buses anyway- the wait time according to the experts is 6-8 months from order to delivery, but we have to do this deal in a hurry. Sort of like the contract with the Ohlmann Group that the board wasn’t allowed to see, voted a week early on, and then wondered why nothing had been done three weeks later, and oh yeah, btw, the deal wasn’t for $112,500 a year like on Board Docs, but for $345 a year, with a one year contract and 2 one year extensions (more on this to come).

This is just one more example of the incompetence of a criminally negligent school district at managing the health, welfare and safety of our schools. ?Buying buses is just part of the solution, we’re still failing at routing, staffing, and demonstrating competent leadership.

A real superintendent would have fired someone for even suggesting that a 30 bus purchase was a viable option, here, we didn’t.

It’s time to remove this school board, superintendent, treasurer and legal counsel for gross incompetence. The only way to do this is to collect over 4500 signatures and present the failings of this board to make reasonable and competent decisions.

This one, has put children in danger.

That’s not what schools are supposed to do.

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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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.