Friday, March 21, 2008

A society of sheep will spawn a government of wolves.

In the field of education you would think that everyone knows how to read. When the 2004-2009 Capital Facilities Plan was presented to the Board, they nodded like a bunch of bobble heads. The information went in one ear, bounced around in the absence of matter, and then exited the other ear without leaving even a smidgen of data behind. The numbers told the story back then. Sadly, no one was listening - at least no one on the Board.

I remain convinced that district management uses student enrollment projections as weapons of war. They knew well in advance that demographic trends would impact their bottom line and yet they moved forward with raises for administrators with no regard for the financial storm that was brewing. How can any competent manager run a school district that way? What in the world would anyone be thinking to hand out raises to colleagues as the financial ship is taking on water. There has to be another reason. What could it be?

I suspect, under the ruse of declining enrollment, district management can target undesirable departments and eliminate threats to the monarchy. That's right, I said it. Things are looking more like a feudal society than a school district. There is clearly a class of nobles and a class of serfs.

Without a doubt, staff in the ESC will be in the cross hairs. During the last batch of cutbacks, the schools bled deeply. This time, it has to be administrative staff. The nobles must be cut and, of course, a few serfs will be lost in the bloodletting.

The memo distributed to staff sought input as to how these financial problems can be resolved. Here are a few ideas;

1. Eliminate the Warehouse Manager position and create a warehouse lead among the remaining staff. This would be a reduction of $65,000 plus benefits and the expense of providing a district vehicle for personal use. This also takes the additional step of limiting exposure to legal action by warehouse staff - because that is only a matter of time.
Savings: $65,000.00 plus benefits (and legal time and energy)

2. Eliminate the Facilities Operations Director position and have the Custodial Manager and Maintenance Manager report directly to the Assistant Superintendent for Business and Operations. If there is a communication problem, get over it. The District doesn't need to spend more than $100,000.00 to have operational issues translated from complex to excessively simple. Cut out the fat in the middle and save some real money.
Savings: $104,000.00 plus benefits

3. Eliminate the Planning and Property Management Specialist position and shift whatever morsels remain to other staff. General fund projects should move to Maintenance and Capital fund projects should go to Facilities Construction. The bus stop locations have already moved to the District's main web page and the position has been effectively vacant since June 11, 2007. This move would also buoy the District's chances in court since they clearly sought to eliminate the position when constructively terminating the last competent Specialist. The District could then make a more righteous argument when facing litigation.
Savings: $58,000.00 plus benefits

4. Reverse the raises that were handed out to administrators last year. It was a bad idea at the time and has only proven to be even worse since then. If these administrators object, offer to write them a very favorable letter of recommendation for their job search.
Savings: $550,000.00

5. Ken Limon and Ellen Kahan should retire. Both have looked for opportunities to become a Superintendent and haven't succeeded. Why should the District foot the bill until they succeed?
Savings: $282,000.00 plus benefits

6. Consolidate the Risk Manager and Safety Specialist into a single position and hire an insurance clerk to communicate with the Risk Management Pool. Other districts do it this way and it has been working for years.
Savings: $30,000.00 plus benefits

7. Release Manny Juzon from his position. No one knows what he does anyway and when the heat from the Auditor comes in, you could claim that you have already corrected the problems. He can be the fall guy.
Savings: $96,000.00 plus benefits

8. Adjust the Payroll Supervisor position back to a rate of pay that has nothing to do with personal ties to Marla Miller. The position should earn something closer to $65,000.00, not the obscene amount currently doled out each year.
Savings: $25,000.00 plus a portion of benefits

Putting these eight suggestions into effect will offset the student enrollment shortfall and save $1,300,000.00.


Anonymous said...

Amen! And you know who I am.

Anonymous said...

I could recommend a few steps beyond:

Eliminate the Assistant Superintendent of Instruction. After all, if the remaining superintendent staff SHOULD have been doing this all along.

Have the building principals perform a more traditional role in the operation of schools (i.e. remain on site and direct efforts toward the daily operation of the building). This will enable the District to reduce the hours allocated to Dean of Students positions.

Eliminate the free food and beverage at District meetings.

Absorb the foodservice department into the general fund, and reign in the administrative salaries. Fund more hours for foodservice staff to perform their duties.

Eliminate the position that Shelly Dearmon now occupies, and save the vast sum of money spent for substitute teachers while she "coaches" building staff.

Contract out the payroll department; it would be cheaper to operate and rank-and-file employees would not have payroll staff using their position to exact personal retribution via pay, benefits, etc.

Conduct a public disclosure of District purchasing practices, and solicit public input on more cost effective avenues for acquisition. The District pays needlessly high prices for much of its material.

Charge facility users appropriately for utility consumption, custodial support and maintenance & repair of physical structure. No more freebies for users who have proven to originate largely from outside of the District. This includes field use as well as building use.

Elevate a two more maintenance staff to departmental leads, and thus eliminate the Maintenance Supervisor. Hire a combined maintenance and custodial supervisor who would actively oversee both units. It is not necessary to have a manager for both.

Offer a stipend to a few experienced custodial staff (via interview) to augment custodial training and practices, subsequently eliminating the need for one of the two custodial coordinator positions.

I am sure that others could add to this list…

Anonymous said...

The above quote is rather insulting to the Canidae family. I would liken the District administration to the African robber dung beetle.

Anonymous said...

You are "right on" with this proposal, particularly the Warehouse position, and the reduction of the Payroll Manager's salary. I doubt that Manny's position will go away until Marla is removed from the District. I have a real concern as to the Superintendent's position; what does he do all day long? I have worked with 4 former Supt.'s and would read an article in the newspaper from time to time about their achievements; but Nick just seems like a "fixture" (warm body). Am I missing something here? Great article, Mark!

Anonymous said...

Eliminate principals. European schools have been run with a head teacher and assistant head teachers for centuries. $70-$100K times how many schools?

Anonymous said...

Esd15, You can't cut the porn king out of a job. What would he do now. The porn industry, does not hiring in this state.
You are right on.
Look at student services, theirs lots of money in that Dept. I see big CUTS there! BIG SALARIES FOR THE KIDS THAT don't go to school. said...

Having spent my formative years in Africa and having encountered dung beetles from time-to-time, I must say that I fail to see any similarities.

The dung beetle collects fecal matter and removes it from its concentrated origin and distributes it across the savannah. They encourage the growth and vibrance of vegetation. They nurture the soil and feed the earth.

District administration is of lesser value than dung beetles. They have more in common with lyme disease carrying deer ticks. said...

There are many great suggestions here. Please, keep them coming.

Anonymous said...

Eliminate the office administrator and one of the secretaries in Maintenance now that there is a new Maintenance Manager that does his job.

Anonymous said...

Get rid of the Manager in Capital Projects (he has a degree in history not construction manageement). You only need one Community Relations Officer, get rid of the fluff.

Anonymous said...

At least Ed had to apply for his position. Marla has an English degree. How does that make her qualified to run business and operations? What about results? She would have been fired years ago if she worked in private industry Definitely would not have been able to pull the shenangins. Maybe that's why she is fighting so hard to keep her job? She knows she can't work anywhere else!!

Anonymous said...

Too many chiefs up at the ESC.
One person that needs to go is Manny. He is useless. I see that you can get rid of two thirds of that list including Marla. I agree with the rest of them. We need the money at the schools, not up at ESC. Wow! Those salaries up there are unreal. The office managers are the ones that are doing your dirty work and you folks up there are getting the salaries and the credit. The paraeducators are getting the hours cut because of YOUR salaries.
REMEMBER, we are here for the students. When I hear about what goes on up there, it makes me sick.
No wonder, we are losing so many principals, teachers and students to other districts. Nick, wake up!
Who is running this district?
It makes us at the schools look like peons and fools when we see all those high salaries. We are the ones working with the students, not you! Does anyone ever visit the schools and see what the other half does?
Thanks Mark for this blog.

Anonymous said...

You are a freak of a leader!
please go back to lazy TOWN or some coward town!

Your parents must be proud.
Are you done growing?

Who do you think you are?

Hey, no joke those sweaters that you wear look good on you.

Anonymous said...

You are right (last comment); there are too many "Chiefs" -
Let's clean house at the top and work down so kids can have playground equipment, covered play areas, and the tools needed for learning. In speaking with a former colleague, I understand that at least 6 Principals are leaving the District at the end of this school year; perhaps they are also sick and tired of working their tails off while the "Big-Wigs at the top laugh all the way to the BANK!! What's wrong with this picture??

Anonymous said...

How about closing a school? It's not a popular option, but why keep open a school with minimal students? Also, begging the question of why build a new high school? The students will fit in the existing high schools! Again, not a popular option, but it's an option.

Like Mark said, the enrollment projection decline was in the capital facilities plan, which the administration (read Marla and Bill McKeighen) ignored.

Keep in mind the staffing model will also reduce the number of teachers needed. Ask Marla for the numbers and see what she says.

Also ask her for the difference between the projected fund balance and the actual fund balance over the last ten years. You'll see that they intentionally project a lower fund balance, and hide and/or overestimate items in the restricted areas.

Anonymous said...

Ken, OK, he talks what he thinks is a good talk and believes people don't notice he's placating them or taking credit for things he didn't have much to do with. He apparently doesn't want to be here anyway, and other districts don't seem to want to take him off our hands.

But I have to disagree about Ellen - she is one of people actually putting in some action, and she does care about the students. (Remember them?) If she left, the district would really be in a world of hurt.