Trotwood board undermines themselves

UPDATE

17 Dec 2018 I misread the Trotwood posting on boarddocs- reading the dates of the contract for Olverson was only Jan 2019 to June 2019. I was not at the meeting. Apparently, they did hire him to a three year contract- so he’s safe and Trotwood kids will benefit. However, there board has still undermined him by getting involved in operational issues- like marketing- that they shouldn’t have. There is no way to fix this post- and to remove it would also be questioned- so I’m striking through the parts that are wrong- and leaving it up- as an admission of my failure. I still believe some of the strife with the staff wouldn’t have happened had he started his marketing communications strategy much earlier

Dayton residents should be thanking the Trotwood School Board for not signing their superintendent, Tyrone Olverson, to a long term contract. This means, that when Libby Lolli quits, as she has done in every other contract she’s been in, Dayton has access to one of the brightest talents on the horizon.

The Trotwood board, which has made only one good decision in the last 10 years, hiring  Olverson to straighten out their years of incompetence, has now undermined his authority and given every other district a chance to hire a competent administrator away.

The real worries in Trotwood should be in the boards micromanaging of the district, as was seen in their delays and selection of an ad agency to help them tell the story of their turnaround. They fiddled, while apparently, Rome, continued to burn, culminating in the teachers union rallying against their new leader and being given credence after years of failed instruction, policy and direction.

Had Olverson been given the tools he needed, when he needed, there is a good possibility that he would have been able to effectively communicate and connect with the community his change plan. Instead, the board stalled from an Aug award date for the contract to an end of December award. Not only that, despite this being an operational tool, the board excluded Olverson’s staff from the decision making process and chose who they thought was best, even although none of them had a clue of what they were buying. I watched and filmed all 8 presentations including my own, I also reviewed all 8 proposals, and their score sheets (which were unsigned- and only from the 5 board members) there was very little intellectual horsepower or research done in awarding the contract.

Besides  errors in the RFP- including a late addition of a budget cap, the fact that they asked all 8 bidders to present, despite clearly different skill sets, (and in one case, being an agency that was dinged for not being local) they wasted agencies time and their time- by having 15 minute presentations from 8 shops instead of at least a 30 minute one each from half as many.

This is a board that hasn’t thought through what happens when they don’t give their CEO the tools he asks for on time, and then undermines him.

While I’m very pro-union, there are no guarantees that union members are any more qualified to judge a superintendents performance than a school board is. Being a teacher doesn’t necessarily mean you know how to run a school district. Considering the last superintendent and the districts performance, Olverson is the only clear change agent.

All said, he’s not perfect. He hired Raymond Caruthers from Dayton Public Schools where his record was anything but stellar. He was about to hire a culinary program lead who was under investigation by DPS and then involved in a domestic violence dispute. Olverson may have written a book about school transformation, but he hasn’t actually done anything yet.

This board needs to decide if they are going to be a board of directors over a CEO, and trust and support him and offer guidance and direction based on his well presented and structured plans, or if they are going to try to do a DPS style, we’re in charge and you’ll do what we say thing. Look at Dayton’s scores- look at Trotwood’s- it’s pretty clear the board in charge solution is a recipe for disaster.

Prediction, Olverson will be picked up by another district before Trotwood comes to their senses and they’ll be in superintendent shopping mode again. Their new “ad agency” will do a very pretty logo, and some nice posters, and run some online ads, and the people of Trotwood and the students won’t think too much of any of it, because of the turmoil at the top.

There is a way to turn a school district around. Undermining your leader isn’t it.

 

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