Sunday, July 10, 2011

How we got where we are Part XII (Christmans 2007)

On another post, Anonymous wrote:

"How we got where we are, Part XII, Christmas 2007

December 3, 2007 – Bill Isler is reelected as Board President.

Note Isler's connection with the national folks (see prior postings about the national role played in the Washington DC and Atlanta scandals).

Theresa Colaizzi is elected 1st Vice President.

Tom Sumpter, a recipient of Broad training for Board members, is elected 2nd Vice President.

Mr. Brentley stated: “I have shared my concerns, over the years, about the speed of the District, how we are moving, how we are locking out, and leaving hundreds, possibly thousands of students, and allowing our administration to move forward on quite a few initiatives, with no accountability...Mr. Isler, I will be not supporting your candidacy, sir, because I believe we are still moving so, so fast. It's painful. We are hurting a lot of people, and I'm still asking, begging in some cases, that we slow the process down, and allow everyone to have access to fair quality education.”

December 19, 2007 – Duquesne University receives a 6 month contract for $75,000 “to design the principal certification program as a component of Pittsburgh's Emerging Leadership Academy. The partnership between Duquesne and Pittsburgh will yield a true academy for aspiring school leaders driven by research on real problems in urban schools and developing urban school leaders who are practitioner researchers.”

Board authorization is requested to “enter into a contract with the Institute for Learning for Dr. Johnston to be the lead principal facilitator for Pittsburgh's Emerging Leadership Academy. Dr. Johnston will provide no less than 24 days of on-site supervision, evaluation and training to
the PELA residents from January 2008 through June 2008...Dr. Johnston has been selected...due to her expertise in learning theory and curriculum, successful national urban principal training through the Institute for Learning, and demonstrated expertise in training Pittsburgh principals through the Leadership Academy. The contract period is from January 1, 2008 through June 30, 2008 at a cost not to exceed $70,000.”

Grant Communications Consulting Group receives a $53,714 contract to work on the Pittsburgh Educator, PPS' in-house newspaper.

Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, “a national law firm headquartered in downtown Pittsburgh,” is hired for expert counsel and consulting services through their Government Relations Practice Group, which is comprised of both attorneys and government relations consultants.”

The 2008 Compensation Plan for administrators is approved, including pay for performance. A very subtle change to the work calendar principals is included which changes the number of days a year they are supposed to work. Linda Lane claims this will allow Principals to run their own summer schools, something in practice that only a tiny few, like Regina Holley, ever will. The shift and realignment of those salaries comes at a steep price tag, roughly $500,000 a year, not including any impact from pay for performance.

The pay for performance plan lines academic executive directors, assistant superintendents and deputy superintendents up for a bonus more or less contingent upon the bonus levels they grant to those that report for them. Nice incentives if you can get them.

The District's agreement with UPMC related to the Pittsburgh Promise is approved. The 2nd and 3rd whereas clauses make quite clear what this is all about: “WHEREAS, UPMC and the School District wish to enter into an agreement providing for an understanding of the tax status of the non-profit entities comprising UPMC and its affiliate organizations which are currently exempt from taxation under Pennsylvania law; WHEREAS, said agreement continues the standard provisions contained in the Payment In Lieu of Tax (PILOT) agreement between the School District and UPMC dated October 22, 1997.”

Mr. Brentley points out that he is being asked to vote on the UPMC agreement having received it just 35 minutes ago."


Questioner said...

Any idea of what type of government relations consulting Buchanan did, and how much the firm was paid?

Anonymous said...


Paid lobbyist.

Remember that the lead lobbyist also represented Pittsbugh and drafted the legislation that took roughly $20 million in annual revenues away from the district and gave it to the City of Pittsburgh.

Questioner said...

Were they lobbying the state for money for PPS? Wonder if they were successful. An issue that may have been going on around that time was whether to update the allocation of state funds to local school districts- allocations are still being based on the proportion of students in particular districts that existed decades ago, and some districts with increasing enrollment have been calling for a greater share of funds. The recent cuts are likely to renew these calls for updated allocatons.

Questioner said...

From the Education Law Center:

"STATE SOURCES OF FUNDING. The state’s share of education spending has fallen over time from about 50 percent to about 36 percent. Funding from the state also has other problems. For example, funding levels are often not tied directly to student enrollment. The state is reluctant to lower funding for any district, even when student enrollment drops. As a result, current funding levels are based to a large degree on politics - not on what students need to succeed."

Anonymous said...

Public hearings are frustrating. Nine faces stare back, often without giving away what they think about the speaker or the message. If only someone could justify the actions chronicled in HOW WE GOT THERE. Answer the question: What the heck were you thinking? That won't happen, at least not now, maybe after the layoffs have reached a higher level.

Questioner said...

Well, usually not 9 faces- most often closer to 7. And apparently public hearings don't have to be set up this way. There was a news article about another PA district where directors and members of the public actually exchanged questions and answers during a public hearing! As for what they were thinking- it seems like it Mark Roosevelt said "trust me" and they did.

Anonymous said...

We need a student rep on the board! It isn't unusual.

""We do get an insight from the student perspective on issues we hear about or don't hear about," says Jim Giel, Shaler Area school board president. "They're the voice of the students. It gives us the perspective of the students"

Questioner said...

A student or, if the PPS board meets to frequently for a student to handle, a recent PPS grad.

Anonymous said...

An active sudent representitive!

There are so many examples.

Anonymous said...

It was a sad day when this district embraced the PELA concept and decided to augment Johnston's wonderful retirement package with an additional 80 or 100K a year.
Try to imagine a group of people almost unbelievably inexperienced in the classroom who spend a couple of years drinking the PELA kool aid and then get placed in positions of authority in schools as principals, acting principals and, cough, directors.
As a parent, this is what you want leading your school? This is the type of individual whom you want to take care of discipline, organizational matters and the like?
It will be a wonderful day when PELA is just a bad memory.

Anonymous said...

There is no prohibition against Pittsburgh making the Board meetings more interactive, providing an opportunity for public comment at committee meetings, agenda review and legislative meetings.

The same rules around time and residency could apply.

Questioner said...

The problem is a lack of interest on the part of board members. There is a matter of time demanded; however, they could probably streamline other meetings to free up time.

Anonymous said...

Our board won't even give us direct email to contact them it all goes to one address. We don't matter and I know my rep, "Co-Lazy" doesn't care.

Mt. Lebanon isn't hiding.

Questioner said...

Maybe board members should have minimum "office hours," like college instructors.