Sunday, December 7, 2014

Quick Comments and Questions on the Upcoming 12/8/14 BOE Meeting -- More Delay, Lack of Transparency and Obfuscation?

The Board Docs for Monday's BOE meeting have posted.  (12/8/14 BOE Meeting agenda.)  We are going to keep this post short and simple because we are busy preparing for the holidays.  (Don't worry, our "Daily Series" will continue early next week.)  There are 4 agenda items we want to comment on:

1.  Tax Levy Options.  For the first time, on the eve of the tax levy vote, Dr. White is presenting three tax levy options for the BOE's consideration prior to voting at the 12/8 board meeting (click to open Tax Levy report): A) CPI 1.5% increase, B) an additional $210,000 levy to cover the projected 2015-2016 deficit or C) levy for new construction. The report explains the different options and their projected impact on taxpayers. Dr. White then recommends that the board approve Option B.   While we commend Dr. White for finally realizing that the MINIMUM the board should be levying are funds sufficient to cover anticipated expenditures in the 2015-2016 budget, we still do not understand why he is not recommending Option C, which would better protect D181's programs in the event that Senate Bill 16 be approved and the district lose over $1.5 million dollars in state funding.  In addition, the BOE discussed the tax levy at the last two board meetings, but the only option presented for its formal consideration was Option A -- a CPI 1.5% increase, leaving the new construction money on the table, and not covering the projected deficit.  The last 2 meeting discussions were intended to fully flesh out the tax levy options and provide board members with sufficient time prior to the 12/8 meeting to thoughtfully consider whether they would approve the administration's recommendation.  Why did Dr. White wait until the last week leading up to the tax levy vote to formally present multiple options?  Did he finally realize that he has been manipulated by anti-tax forces at work in our community?  Did he finally realize after hearing from community members, that tax payers are willing to sufficiently fund the budget to avoid future program cuts?  We hope that at a MINIMUM, the BOE approves Option B on Monday night, and not allow anti-tax forces and anti-tax board members to sway a board majority to vote on an under-levy option that will ultimately hurt our students.  And next year, we hope that Dr. White presents multiple options and the administrations recommendation in a timely manner.

2.  Dr. White's Report (click to open Report) discusses the upcoming Madison Principal search and a timeline for a "Learning For All Plan" Review to be conducted over 3 upcoming board meetings.

A)  Madison Principal Search:  We commend Dr. White's transparency in presenting the timeline and process for hiring Mrs. McMahon's replacement to the entire community.  Mrs. McMahon is an outstanding principal and her retirement will leave a void in our district that cannot easily be filled.  We urge Dr. White to guarantee to the community that a principal of Mrs. McMahon's caliber of excellence will not be replaced with a "starter" principal, who has never been a principal before. We also urge Dr. White to look beyond Troy 30C's employee pool to fill this opening.  While we take no issue with the administrators from Dr. White's former district that he has brought to D181, it will raise questions and send the wrong message to our community about the fairness and equal opportunities afforded all candidates if the next important administrative hire is also plucked from Troy 30C.

B)  Learning For All Plan Review:  The review process spelled out in Dr. White's report is flawed.  Dr. White proposes spending 2 meetings in January and February discussing the "macro level history and review of the LFA plan development" and "an overview of key terms and components" before finally discussing "current and future work" in March.  The board does not need yet another multi-bubble power point by Kurt Schneider and his department discussing for the millionth time the "history" of how we got to the point where the LFA plan was developed.  We -- and more importantly the BOE members -- can all read the numerous power points the administration has presented in the past.  It is quite sad, actually, that nearly 3 years after the LFA was "developed" there is still no BINDER or FULL REPORT created by Schneider and company that ANYONE in the community can review to understand the "history" or "key terms and components."  But more than sad, in our opinion, it proves that the administration is stalling for more time as its curriculum administrators try to understand what they have in fact done to our district and how they have wreaked curriculum havoc on our students and teachers.  Enough delay and obfuscation!  It is time for them to cut to the chase, do an analysis of what has worked and what has not worked in the LFA plan, present DATA to the BOE so it can make DATA DRIVEN decisions on whether or not the LFA plan should be scrapped in its entirety or modified.  For the sake of D181's students, we hope that the BOE is not "snowed" by yet another attempt to white-wash the facts and further delay a real discussion by the board on the "future" of LFA.

3.  HCHTA Report.  Gary Frisch, the Assistant Superintendent of Business will be presenting a report to the BOE on the net financial impact of the HCHTA contract that the BOE approved in May 2014.  (click to open Agenda link to the report.)  The report states that "a community member requested the cost of the new teacher contract at a recent Board meeting."  We recall that almost immediately after the contract was approved, community member Jerry Mejdrich made this request at the June 9 meeting.  (Click to open 6/9/14 Board Summary prepared by D181 Administration.)  In our opinion, a request SIX months ago is not "recent." We have only one question:  Why did it take the administration SIX months to provide this information?  The community has a right to expect timely responses to financial questions asked by either community. After all, we, the taxpayers provide the majority of the revenue to the district.  Our community can ill afford to have the administration or board lack transparency in financial matters.  Let's hope this doesn't happen again on Dr. White's watch.


HMS Parent said...

"Recent" does not equal 6 months. Dr. White and Board President Turek, who set the agendas should be embarrassed to have waited half a year to answer Mr. Mejdrich's question and to allow any administrator to misrepresent the timing of his inquiry by using the term "recent."

Anonymous said...

This is in regards to the Madison principal search. While I agree with you that experience is a good thing, however, it is not foolproof. Yes, there are many people who need experience before they can be good principals. However, I have seen far too many great candidates with little to no experience, and too many terrible "experienced" people who just know how to game the system.

I think experience is an important aspect to being good at your job, it is not an end-all, be-all aspect of a job.

This obsession with having "experienced" people and not "starter" people, I find is a bit elitist, but, to be fair, I do realize that you want the best education for our kids. So I just ask that you look at the complete person, not just what it says on a resume. Should the district open up the search/interview process to parents, district staff and community members, I suggest going so you can make as an informed decision as possible. Thank you.