Tuesday, July 21, 2015

"Emperor's New Clothes" Round Two. Once again, Parents and Taxpayers are Being Played as Fools.

It is time for some reflections.  First, we are thankful.  We are thankful to our readers who over the last two years have made this blog viable and encouraged us to continue our quest for transparency in D181.  Last week we achieved a landmark when we exceeded 500,000 hits on this blog.  It may not seem like a lot of hits to other bloggers, but to us it was validation that what we have been doing -- creating a forum of true transparency and discussion -- has been worth it.

Having said that, our second reflection is not so positive.  Despite over two years of presenting and discussing facts and data, "unswirling" fiction about programs such as Advanced Learning/Learning for All/Learning for None, and exposing the "Emperors New Clothes" for what they were -- rather what they were not -- we have come to the sad realization that not much has changed in the "Castle" -- the D181 Central Office Administration.  Despite a change in the "ruler," there continues to be spin, lack of transparency, and in our opinion more invisible clothing being manufactured and paraded about town for "all to see."  Sadly, the monarchy still believes that D181 parents, taxpayers and residents are idiots who will not see the latest administrative antics for what they are and how they may continue to hurt our children's education.

The latest "fiction" (in our opinion) comes in the form of the recent announcement that the Central Office is going to once again be reorganized, the Department of Learning split back into two distinct sub-departments -- 1. Curriculum and Instruction and 2) Pupil Personnel Services (predominantly Special education, plus ELL).  We believe that despite the "announcement," D181's ruler is not taking the necessary steps to effect meaningful and much needed change in the Department of Learning.  To fully understand how we have come to this conclusion, let us review some history.

A Historical Primer -- The Department of "Learning" -- The Last Seven Years

  • The last time D181 had a dedicated, experienced expert in the field of curriculum and instruction to serve as the Assistant Superintendent of Learning was seven years ago, under former Superintendent Tenbusch.  
  • Tenbusch's brief, eleven month tenure in our district was wrought with administrative turnover, as the majority of administrators hired by former Superintendent Mary Curley were essentially shown the door by a BOE that many community members believe desired to get rid of all central administrators she had hired.  
  • When Tenbusch also "suddenly" resigned, Dr. Janet Stutz was hired to run the Department of Learning (but not the Department of Special Education) by Associate Superintendent Mary Ticknor. (The BOE had promoted Ms. Ticknor from Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources, to essentially run the district that summer during the search for an interim superintendent.)  Dr. Stutz did not have a background or experience as a Curriculum Administrator, rather came to D181 as a former principal and background in facilities. 
  • Despite much public criticism about the curriculum, testing and placement criteria changes Dr, Stutz implemented, she managed to serve as the Assistant Superintendent for nearly five years, before leaving two years ago to become a superintendent elsewhere, (Preceding her departure was Ms. Ticknor, who also left to become a superintendent in another district after continuing in her role as Associate Superintendent during the two years that Dr. Robert Sabatino was hired to serve as Interim Superintendent. Five years ago, Dr. Schuster was hired as Superintendent. She left in May 2014 and Dr. White was hired.)
  • Replacing Stutz was Kevin Russell, who within one year was double promoted by Schuster, first from Walker School principal to Director of Assessment during Stutz's last year, and then to Assistant Superintendent of Learning. Russell departed one year ago to also become a superintendent in another district,  When he left, his position as Assistant Superintendent of Learning (Curriculum and Instruction) was merged with Dr. Schneider's position of Assistant Superintendent of Learning (PPS), who became the sole Assistant Superintendent of Learning.
  •  Recall that Dr. Schneider was originally hired in July 2012 to serve as the Assistant Superintendent of PPS (Special Education) after former Assistant Superintendent of PPS, Pam Kazee, was hired by a high school district.  As we have written about extensively on this blog, Dr. Schneider's role as the head Special Education administrator quickly morphed into an expanded role where he (in our opinion) was allowed to implement his social justice theories and create the Advanced Learning/Learning For All/Acceleration for all then acceleration for none/One Size Fits All instructional model. When Russell left, Scheider was officially given ALL of the curriculum oversight responsibilities byWhite who came on board right after Russell left.  
  • During the last year, we the bloggers and many brave parents and even some teachers, have called out the Department of Learning, exposing quite a few problems including  lack of administrative experience and training in the various Department of Learning positions, lack of data analysis and implementation of experimental programs that were driven by a social justice agenda that has no place in our district and has not been proven to serve high achieving, gifted, advanced, "unique" or talented students.

Dr. White's Announcement to Reorganize the Central Administrative Office, Specifically the Department of Learning -- Fact or Fiction?

Our last three posts have focused on the Dr. White's announcement that he has decided to split the Department of Learning back into two distinct sections, 1.  Curriculum and Instruction and 2. PPS (special education focused services) and move Dr. Schneider back into only serving as the Assistant Superintendent of Learning (PPS), rather than overseeing the entire department.

While we have commended Dr. White's decision to do this, we must now question how sincere he actually is going to be in implementing this much needed curriculum leadership change.

We, along with many of our readers who have submitted comments, have already questioned the almost covert manner in which this announcement was made -- in the dead of summer, first going only to teachers and not parents or community members, then only getting a short blurb by Dr. White during the July 13th "special board meeting" and having his announcement suggest that Scheider will still be involved in non-SPED related curriculum and instruction decisions.  One informed parent has already written to White reminding him that the district requires the head of Special Education services to be 100% dedicated to that position, yet White refuses to acknowledge this requirement.  Why?  

But as with the past experiences with the "Emperor's new clothes" we now believe that the claim that White is seeking to hire someone to serve as Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction because he has "listen[ed][ to our community's needs and desires for our schools and implement[ed] the changes that will most effectively help us achieve our mission of providing an environment of educational excellence for each student," may be more spin and fiction.  Why do we say this?

Clearly, after years of having non-qualified, experienced, trained curriculum administrators running the Department of Learning with the end result being that our children have lost years of getting to participate and experience a proven, highest quality instructional model that truly meets the needs of each learner, it should be obvious that what the district needs is a full time, experienced, qualified, proven curriculum administrator with an expertise in the field.  D181 does not need a part time, retired, generic administrator to step into this role, or an untested, inexperienced, first timer, learn on the job employee.  Nor does D181 need a person with a desire to experiment on our children to "vet" unproven educational theories.  A recognition of what is needed would result in the crafting of a JOB DESCRIPTION with stated criteria of education, work experience and the specifics of the day to day responsibilities that the new Assistant Superintendent of Learning (Curriculum and Instruction) will be responsible for.

Ahem.  Double ahem.  So why do we only have White's empty words and representations and NOTHING else to prove that D181 is actually undertaking a legitimate search for the best qualified curriculum administrator our tax dollars can afford?  There is NOTHING of substance to prove that a legitimate job search is underway to identify, vet, interview and consider a pool of qualified candidates with curriculum expertise.  There is NOTHING to prove that White's plans to hire someone new are nothing more than a fiction that will end in some internal promotion or external hire of another of White's former employees or connections (who may or may not be qualified for the role).

Why do we say this?  We have done some research on the process D181 is following to hire a new Assistant Superintendent of Learning (Curriculum and Instruction).  The results are most disturbing and make us really wonder just what the heck is going on in White's head?

First we checked the D181 website to see if a Job Vacancy had been posted.  On first glance we found nothing.  We looked under the D181 Department of Human Resources Job Vacancy link:  https://www.generalasp.com/D181/OnlineApp/jobpostings/view.asp. Expecting that an Assistant Superintendent position would be listed under "Administration" we were surprised to find that only ONE vacancy was listed and that was for a Pupil Services Administrator (at the building level).  That position was complete with a detailed job description -- click to open.

But then we noticed the second category of job vacancies called "Administrative District Office," and we thought "Ahah! That is where the Assistant Superintendent position will be listed."  So we clicked to open the ONE vacancy listed and were once again surprised that it wasn't there, rather the only Central Administrative position listed was that of "Director of Pupil Services," a position that has been posted since 4/23/2105.  That position was complete with a detailed job description -- click to open.

No other job vacancy is posted under this category.  Now we don't know about you, but common sense dictates that if we were a Curriculum Administrator hunting for a new job and came upon the D181 website, we wouldn't go any further than looking at these two categories to see if a Central Administrative position was available.  Nope, we would move on to another district's website.
We most certainly wouldn't keep clicking beyond the next category listed -- "Elementary School Teaching" (which obviously wouldn't apply to an experienced curriculum administrator's job search for a new administrative position) -- and then click on a "new category (which we have NEVER before seen on the Job Vacancy link) called "Interim."

But because we the bloggers were hunting for the job vacancy posting, we did click on "Interim" and low and behold, we found it!  Sort of....

If you click on the following link -- https://www.generalasp.com/D181/OnlineApp/jobpostings/view.asp?category=Interim -- you will open a job description for a position called "Interim Assistant Superintendent of Learning." 

We have copied the text of this job posting below:

Interim Assistant Superintendent of LearningJobID: 924 
Position Type:

Email To A Friend
Print Version 
Closing Date:

Until filled
  Interim/Assistant Superintendent
Date Posted:
  District Office
Date Available:
For information about this job, please visit http://www.bwpassociates.com

We found this job posting to be quite fascinating in what it doesn't
 say.  Sure, it is called Assistant Superintendent of Learning, but it also has "Interim" as part of the title, suggesting that no attempt is being made right now to hire a PERMANENT administrator.  Further, there is absolutely NO JOB DESCRIPTION attached, so even if found by a Curriculum Administrator searching for a new job, there would be nothing to indicate that this is a position focused on Curriculum and Instruction, or give any clue as to the educational or experience requirements or what the job responsibilities entail. All that is referenced is to visit the website of an Educational Search Firm called BWP Associates, but no active link is included.

So we continued out search for more information on this MOST IMPORTANT JOB VACANCY in D181 by going to BWP's website, which we are providing to you as an active link:  http://www.bwpassociates.com.

When you click on that link, you don't pull up the job description, rather you only open their website. To find the D181 Job description you have to go hunting, first by clicking on their link

called Searches in Progress (which we are also providing to you as a live link).  That opens up a list of job searches they are currently running and the 6th of 7 searches listed is for D181:  We have copied the text of their listing below:

Hinsdale School District 181 - Illinois

Seeking an Interim Assistant Superintendent for Learning - 2015-16 School Year
View information on community and position
Status:  In Progress

Embedded in this brief blurb was an active link called "View Information on Community and Position."  So we naturally assumed by clicking on the link we would FINALLY see a detailed job description.  Alas, we did not.  Click on it for yourself and you will see that all it shows is the following information:

Hinsdale School District 181 



Interim Assistant Superintendent Vacancy 
2015-16 School Year 

Hinsdale School District 181 is seeking an interim Assistant Superintendent for Learning for the 2015-16 school year. This position is available immediately and is open to someone interested in full time or a retired administrator working under the 100-day TRS cap. Resumes will be reviewed upon receipt by Dr. Anne Noland and Dr. Mark Friedman. 
BWP and Associates, Ltd.
 872 South Milwaukee Avenue, #221 
Libertyville, Illinois 60048 
Please send a current resume and letter of interest to: 
Dr. Mark Friedman friedman.markr@gmail.com 847-975-8393 
Dr. Anne Noland mhnoland@comcast.net 630-624-3336 
An Equal Opportunity Employer

NO JOB DESCRIPTION!!!  Nothing, nada, zippo!  O.k.  Now we were mad!  How can it be BOTH the district and the search firm have nothing of substance posted on their websites? For each of the other six open searches it is conducting, BWP  has live links to very detailed job descriptions:  Click to open detailed job descriptions for Search 1Search 2Search 3Search 4Search 5 and Search 7.

So why doesn't BWP have a description that fully explains the job and its qualifications?  What 
little is posted establishes that Dr. White is willing to hire a retired administrator who can only work a maximum of 100 days under the TRS cap.  Really?  Is this what our children really need to fill the "void" Dr. White has thankfully created by cutting Schneider's job in half?  Or is this whole "job search" nothing more than fiction, allowing White to claim later that no one was interested in the job, therefore Schneider needs to re-assume his former job title?  Or will this fiction allow White to bring his own "candidate" (internal or external) forward after claiming that the BWP search failed to yield any other candidates?

Is the process that is currently underway to hire a new Assistant Superintendent of Learning (Curriculum and Instruction) really the best effort by a district of our caliber or a search firm of BWP's caliber?  We think not, especially with the high salaries our administrators are paid or the high fees that we expect BWP is collecting to conduct this "search."

Readers, there is something seriously fishy about what is going down.  We can go on and on about the ramifications of what we have uncovered, but frankly, we are tired.  Tired of all the spin, tired of all the games, tired of the assumption by the current central office administrator in charge that we are ignorant, naive parents and taxpayers who are willing to play dumb, pretend to see things that do not really exist, and are idiots.  We most certainly are not, but after two years of exposing the problems and harm being caused to our children, we are just about ready to walk away and throw in the towel. It really is up to the new School Board to fix this mess, because it is plain as day that we cannot trust our administrative leaders to do it.



Retired D181 parent said...

Bloggers, reading your latest post makes me feel relief that my kids are no longer in D181. What has been going on is a travesty. What happened to the first rate district I moved to 20 years ago? A district that was considered a prize for experienced administrators to get a job in? And now I hear rumblings that there is going to be a referendum to build a new middle school? Good luck passing that. I for one will not vote to increase my taxes as long as the central office administration is such a mess. D181's administration needs to get its existing house in order and then, and only then, can it have any hope of passing a capital referendum.

Anonymous said...

5:32 you are spot on! I also will vote no on a future referendum unless the hot mess that currently exists in the classrooms and at the central office is fixed once and for all.

Anonymous said...

I honestly cannot believe that this district's administrators are so spoiled and clueless that they can't hire other administrators without the assistance of an educational headhunter! This is a public elementary school district for God's sake. We have a full time HR administrator and it is summer. We have multiple administrators and they each have been granted adminstrative level buddies along with their own personal assistants. What does everyone in the district office do all summer? Unbelievable that these folks can't put timely, proper online vacany notices themselves on not only our own website, but advertise in respectable educational journals (not urban hip hop ones) and their websites, too.

D181 treats us and our children like low class serfs while they rob us of our tax dollars every day. What an enormous joke of a district.

Truly, the emperor has no clothes and I am sick of looking at his shortcomings.

Anonymous said...

New Administrator for D181

Job Duties: Help annihilate the public schools of Hinsdale 181 while you are paid handsomely to pretend you know what you are doing. The lower your IQ, the higher you will be paid.

Confidently engage in dubious, unethical activities while claiming you are following best practices.

Be able to create your own research results based on imaginary studies. Design and implement educational experiments on children, grades K- 8. You will receive overtime and stipends to engage in these pilot studies on the subjects.. All the while, know your work in Hinsale will be helping urban and economically disadvantaged children in CPS learn more than the children in privileged communities like D181.
How rewarding! You may even begin to feel like Robin Hood - except you will dress better!

No education necessary. Just come with excellent acting skills.

Benefits: Free wifi. Summers off, but you still get paid as though you were at work. All you have to do is show up every morning and take a seat. Now that the new district offices are farther from town, no one will ever notice when are sleeping, not there or if you leave early. Free use of iPhones and MacBooks. If you are unanimously hired by all Board of Ed members, The Hinsdalean will award you a free iWatch and a lifetime subscription! When you decide to leave for a better job, the district will be happy to still pay for any advanced degree you chose to order, oops, earn, on line. It's on us! Our parents are very generous.

Guaranteed job security no matter what you do. Great pension. Free legal representation.

Join us! You'll be glad you did!

Anonymous said...

No to a referendum!! Yes to a clean sweep of the central office administration!

Anonymous said...

Those search firms are a waste of money and time. Most likely they already have a candidate for the position in mind, but are trying to make it appear they are casting a wide net. It's a good ole boys organization trying to keep one of their boys employed. It will undoubtedly be a retired administrator from nearby district that can only work 100 hours, hence the interim part. Most likely it will be a smooth talker that can put a spin on anything while maintaining the status quo. It's the dance of the lemons. Good luck!

Yvonne Mayer said...

Bloggers: I wrote a letter to Dr. White and the Board of Education earlier this week regarding the Assistant Superintendent position. Bottom line, I reminded Dr. White that since he is the superintendent, he is 100% responsible for ensuring that the next person hired to be the assistant superintendent of learning with a focus on curriculum and instruction will be qualified and experienced. If he fails to deliver, the Board of Education should hold him accountable. I pointed out how there board members who believe they should have a 100% hands off approach when it comes to hiring anybody other than the superintendent. So be it. But that means that if the next person hired is not qualified, experienced or is just another crony, the board needs to do something about it by holding Dr. White accountable. What a shame that you have a uncovered what appears to be a questionable process being used to hire the new assistant superintendent. Time will tell if this method bears fruit. For the sake of all the children in our district, I sincerely hope that the administrator hired is not a starter administrator or a part timer or retired, but someone with an expertise in curriculum and who will be fully commit to our district and not try to impose any more experimental educational theories on our students. I also agree with some of the other comments that there is no way I will support a financial referendum to build a new school if what is going on in our current schools continues to be such a mess. I totally agree that first we need to make sure our tax dollars are spent on appropriate administrators, before anyone is asked to ante up more tax dollars.

Barbara Johnson said...

I am deeply saddened to read the previous comments...The citizens who reside in Community Consolidated School District 181 are highly intelligent people, thoughtful and concerned people. To say you will vote no on any upcoming referendum because the administration displeases you, seems very shortsighted indeed. I am a former District 181 employee, and I have experienced (first hand) working in less than satisfactory buildings, under adverse conditions. A number of my colleagues have experienced deplorable situations. I worked under six or seven prior superintendents, starting back with Dr. Ron Simcox in 1973...I have witnessed and endured a lot! In an effort to spite the nose(s) of the present administration, you are cutting off the faces of those who(on a daily, yearly, and in very many cases lifetime basis) use the facilities the most! How many individuals in Central Administration will be impacted by the construction of a new middle school? How many students? How many staff members? I only have taught in the "old" junior high and Hinsdale Middle School. However, I have taught summer school in The Lane, Madison, Prospect, Elm, and Monroe. I have attended meetings at Clarendon Hills Middle School, and I even taught there during the closure of HMS in 2014. Compared to the aforementioned buildings, HMS is unquestionably an unsatisfactory facility. It is unconscionable how much taxpayer money has been POURED into that building merely to make the edifice "satisfactory." Naturally, that money could have been (better) used for materials, technology, supplies, (you name it!)that could have affected the students directly. Unfortunately, we can't change the past. Hopefully, we can improve the future by learning from it.

Yvonne Mayer said...

Part 1 of 2: Ms. Johnson: I can only speak for myself (not the comments made by others). I am sorry if you are upset by my comment regarding the upcoming referendum. I want to further explain why I made my comment. I have had four students go through HMS. Unknown to me during their combined 12 years in that building, it was infested with mold. Fortunately, none of them suffered health issues as a result, although I now know (as does the entire community) that the "sick" building did harm students and teachers when the administration failed to properly investigate and address teacher concerns. It took the bursting of pipes two winters ago to finally expose the mold infestation and then over $2 million dollars were spent to remove the mold and repair the wall damage (that I recall was more than 80% of the building). The building reopened and parents and teachers were assured that the building was now medically safe. I hope that this "deplorable condition" was, in fact corrected, and if that was not the case, the community needs to be told that as part of the referendum request. However, I must say despite my ignorance of the mold situation over the 12 years my kids were at HMS, I never thought the building itself was deplorable. I was pretty atuned to what was going on, especially after I got on the BOE and I do not recall teachers ever coming forward to say the building was in deplorable condition. Perhaps teachers did bring other serious non-mold concerns forward, but the BOE wasn't told and I don't recall that the community was either. I know many people think the building is ugly and they do not like the open concept. I also know that some of the classrooms are very small and compared to the uniformity and different style of CHMS, some people want a new building. But when my kids went to HMS, they got a wonderful education, and the reason was because of the teachers (like you, who unfortunately my kids never got to have). It was also because of the courses and academically challenging opportunities they were given. It never occurred to me that a new building was necessary to ensure that my kids got an outstanding education at HMS because they did get an outstanding education while there. Now, for me, the issue has become one of trust in the administration because of the radical experimentation and curriculum changes that have taken place over the last few years, changes that I know have hurt students whose families I am friends with. Sadly, I know of multiple families (including personal friends) who have made the decision to move from the district and/or transfer their children to private school, not because of building conditions, but because of instructional model conditions.

Yvonne Mayer said...

Part 2 of 2:
I consider myself lucky that my kids were not impacted by all of the changes over the last few years, but those changes had nothing to do with the buildings, rather with the administrators who wanted to impose social justice, inclusive (untested and unproven) theories on a high achieving, upper middle class community. I won't debate the last three years of history, other than to say I have lost confidence in the administrators in the Dept. of Learning. My taxes don't just pay teachers salaries, but also pay for administrators salaries. My taxes paid for the millions in repair work at HMS. So for me it comes down to this -- I want what is best for all students. That starts with ensuring the right curriculum and instructional model implemented in our existing schools. That requires administrative oversight and accountability when our students suffer from bad hiring decisions and bad curriculum decisions. Those are problems that need to be fixed NOW before any referendum is floated to raise our taxes. The administration should fire the under-performing administrators. It should hire administrators who have expertise and proven, successful experience. When and if those changes occur, I will be more than happy to consider voting YES on a capital referendum, but during the vetting process, the community needs a full explanation on teacher concerns (such as yours) surrounding the "Deplorable Conditions" you believe exist. Respectfully, Yvonne Mayer

Anonymous said...

The HMS issue is separate from the instructional model/poor DOL decisions issues. Yes, they are related because the administrative staff will be involved in both issues going forward but that's it. I am also very unhappy with much that has gone on in this district but HMS teachers have spoken passionately about the conditions that they are working in and how the building is shortchanging our students and lessening their educational experience. Yes, many students, including mine, have had great experience at HMS but that is due to herculean efforts on the part of the teachers, Mr. May and Mr. Pena to hold it all together and do the best they can. Enough is enough.

A referendum is not something to take lightly but neither are the conditions at HMS. And let's not forget, that in addition to the poor curriculum decisions that have been made recently which impact student learning, scores and reputation, a building like HMS also negatively impacts the property values of community members and will make it more difficult to sell our houses. A new middle school is an incredible asset to the community and will pay its members back in spades. Short-term pain for long-term gain. We shouldn't be so focused on "getting back" at or "punishing" the administration that we lose sight of what is really important.

A British Tar said...

Ms. Johnson, I have to respectfully disagree on why people would vote "No" on a referendum. I don't believe it's really to spite the administration, but rather a vote of no confidence. The administration has consistently shown that it will spend time, manpower and money that doesn't better the education of our children, and some could argue that programs/tools have actually harmed our children just because it's the new "cool" thing or not knowing what it's really like working all day, everyday in the schools. At the same time, the administration has ignored much needed improvements. Moldgate & the water intrusion events have been the big things, but I have heard of many smaller things that the administration has done (or not done) that harmed the district. Plus, let's not forget the layout, structural and support concerns the HMS staff has brought forward that impacts how they teach.

So I don't believe it's a matter of spite. To me, it's more of a matter of not trusting the administration to properly build a new middle school nor renovate the current building and using the taxpayers' money wisely.

Retired D181 Parent said...

This is to 8 a.m.: You hit the nail on the head when you said that the HMS issue is related to the instructional model/poor DOL decisions issue "because the administrative staff will be involved in both issues going forward." That's the problem. The community has to trust that all decisions made by the administrative staff are financially responsible and that there will be accountability for poor decisions. That is not the case right now. Over the last few years, time and again, the administration has wasted taxpayer money on salaries for overpaid, incompetent, inexperienced administrators. They have brought in paid "consultants" who have insulted our community members (recent "tech guru") or have been brought in to further the spin and swirl of the social justice ideology that has been rammed down our children's throats and hurt our curriculum model for over three years. They turned a blind eye to teacher complaints about the unhealthy air at HMS and it took a full blown crisis to uncover moldgate, costing taxpayers over $2 million dollars to (hopefully) remediate. I for one do not trust the administration to responsibly spend upwards of $40 million on a new school, at least not at this point. Just look at some of the "plans" they rolled out recently for the new school. They want taxpayers to spend hard earned money on a building that includes an "Administrative and Professional Development Center" -- http://www.boarddocs.com/il/hccsdil/Board.nsf/files/9WDFXV414EBF/$file/BOE%20Presentation_Facilities_%205.12.2015.pdf. Why is a professional development center part of the plans? For years teachers have had their professional development conducted throughout the district, in gyms, multi-purpose rooms, classrooms and the school media centers (libraries). The proposed plans assume that we, the taxpayers, have a bottomless pit of tax money that we are willing to spend on our schools. That assumption is misplaced, even in a district like ours. This is not about punishing anyone. It is about expecting that the highly paid administrators do their jobs and do them well, not wasting or squandering tax money on their own salaries and then creating capital improvement plans packed with unnecessary bells and whistles and that go way beyond what is really necessary to solve the HMS issue. Further, if the administration really wants to convince the taxpayers to vote yes on another capital referendum, then they better start involving the community in a much more proactive way. Even now, the way the referendum is being marketed shows poor leadership. If Dr. White plans to put the referendum on the ballot for a vote next February (which I have heard is the target date), why hasn't the administration formed a referendum committee of community members yet? Back in the early 2000's, when the district ran the prior capital referenda, we had more than the superintendent going to farmers markets and ice cream socials to sell the idea. We had a committee of hard working, committed community members working for months and months reaching out to fellow taxpayers to sell the idea. That's why the last referenda passed. The district is already behind in taking the steps needed to run a successful referendum. Things have to change if they really expect the referendum to pass.

Anonymous said...

I don't know how I plan to vote on a referendum, but I do know one thing: I am sick and tired of the games the administration is playing. I don't understand why the posting for the Assistant Sup. of Learning (Curriculum and Instruction) is, for lack of a better work, buried. I agree with the bloggers that there is lack of transparency going on here and that shouldn't be the case, especially with such an important administrative position. Makes no sense and so I agree that it sure seems "fishy."
Also, I am thrilled that Dr. Schneider has been moved back to doing only special education work, but I'm not even sure that he will be successful in that arena, since I know several parents who are completely disgusted with the way their special needs kids educational plans have been mishandled on his watch. I hope Dr. White keeps a close eye on what is going on in the SPED/PPS department because these students are our district's most fragile ones and they can not afford to have their IEP's/504's mishandled.

Barbara Johnson said...

A British Tar,
I agree wholeheartedly with your response. However, whether the reason for voting no to a referendum is complete lack of confidence in the District leadership or a matter of spite, I still conclude the biggest impact will be borne by the students, faculty and staff who must learn and work in an inferior structure (compared to all the other facilities in the district). There is no hesitation or doubt in my mind that whatever the outcome, the staff will do everything in its power to continue to do what is best for the students...that seems to be consistent for as long as I've been employed!

A British Tar said...

Ms. Johnson, thank you for your support. One thing about this blog I don't like is I never know whether my words will be praised or viciously shot down. I just wanted to say that I am familiar with you and many staff members at HMS and I agree that the HMS staff will do whatever it can to provide the best education possible.

One thing I forgot to mention in my last post that speaks to the distrust I have of the district level administrators & staff: I recently talked a staff member who works district-wide (though not the person we all love to hate). He/she said that they're working on a project, and if it's behind schedule, they won't get punished for that. He/she sort of laughed it off and didn't seem to care what the consequences were. However, I know from staff at the buildings that such a project affects how they work in the classrooms on a day to day basis. Just because the district level employee won't get punished, chances are someone at the building level will. Forgive me for being vague on what this project is, but any more detail might reveal who I am and I'll probably get retaliated against. Also, the district level employee, from what I've seen, doesn't do this out of spite or to harm anyone. He honestly doesn't fully realize the issues the teachers & kids go through on a day-by-day basis. However, I did tell this person, as respectfully as I can, that though he/she may not be punished, someone at the building level probably would. He/she did seem to take it to heart.

That is one issue I have with many of the district staff. I believe many, if not most, of them mean well and do whatever they can, there's too much inexperience, and I hate to say it, maybe even incompetence there, that does more harm than good. There maybe some district administrators/staff who are good and competent, but do not have the ability to adequately do their jobs, through no fault of their own. There are some administrators, unfortunately, I feel are more concerned about building a name for themselves and preventing themselves from getting bad press than doing what's best for the kids. I wonder how many administrators the district has had who only went through the motions and did the bare minimum in their positions only until they receive their doctorates and get a superintendent position in a different district.

Anonymous said...

I've just read the last few posts and all the comments. What a mess the admin has gotten itself into. Looks to me like the demotion of you know who is being spun as a wise decision to split the dept. of learning when anyone with half a brain will conclude the obvious --- you know who wanted to leave our district for a superintendency somewhere else, would have happily left in the middle of the summer to do so leaving our students in the lurch, then didn't get the job but the community found out about it. That plus the questionable FOIA document revelations probably forced White's hand to make the reorganizational change. Only problem is that there is no one competent or qualified to now oversee Curriculum and Instruction and it doesn't look like a legitimate search is underway. No wonder there is a lack of trust in the administration.