Sunday, July 17, 2011

How we got where we are Part XIII (January and February 2008)

On another thread Anonymous wrote:


How we got where we are, part 13, January and February 2008:

January 23, 2008: The first action of the new year is approval to submit a grant to the Heinz Foundation for $50,000 to hire a consultant to “assist District staff in creating a communications plan seated around the key transition points in a child's Pre K-12 education.”

The Board approves the purchase of 50,000 custom lapel pins to be used in Communications and Marketing.

Chief Operations Officer Richard Fellers is forced to announce his retirement, effective November 2008.

January 25, 2008: The Board approves a three year contract with the PFT (July 1, 2007 to June 30, 2010).

This is a more traditional contract and contract negotiation, with some salary increases, reductions to post-retirement health benefits and a 10 minute extension of the work day.

February 27, 2008: Communications' leads off the Board agenda with “Submission of an application for $101,475 from the Fund for Excellence for the Pittsburgh Public Schools over 12 months for costs associated with Communications and marketing materials for implementation of Excel 9-12. Specific Excel 9-12 programs benefiting from this support include IB World, University Prep, Science and Technology, Academy, Robotics, 9th Grade Nation, and Pittsburgh Promise. Funds will support various brochures, fliers, mailing costs, banners and stands, ESL translation services, and refreshments/supplies for family and community meetings. The funding period shall run from March 1, 2008
to June 30,2009.”

The Board enter into an agreement “with Focus on Results to coordinate the training and development of central and building administrators on building a high performance culture to support the realization of the District's goals. The contract amount will be paid across a negotiated schedule developed by the Consultant and the District. The total contract price
reflects 18 months of professional development for staff...from March I, 2008 to April 30, 2009. Payment shall be at the rate per schedule, total cost shall not exceed $532,220.” The Board tab brags that “the services will be provided at a deep discount from Focus on Results regular rate.”

The Board approves a contract with a graphic designer “who will revise existing artwork in order to update the Welcome Back-to-School Program materials for the 08/09 school year.”

Another consultant is hired to generate “a communications plan that will create awareness and understanding of the District's "Pathways to the Promise," which focuses on key
milestones within the PreK to grade 12 continuum of education so students are "Promise-ready" and avail themselves of The Pittsburgh Promise scholarships. Communications plan will include development of a written concept supported by key messages that will serve as the common language so that all stakeholders can be on the same page. The plan will include tactical recommendations regarding outreach to key stakeholders, including a high level time line and budget. Implementation of the tactical plan, including writing and design of any materials, is not included within this project scope. Consultant will conduct interviews and participate in meetings with staff to obtain input/feedback to
develop written concept and messages. Message testing with parents is part of the process.”

Fallout from “the Schenley matter” continues. For the fall 2008, the Board approves moving the robotics program from Schenley to Peabody and adds a 9th grade to Frick. Schenley's 10, 11 and 12th graders will move to Reizenstein. Uprep is scheduled to open with only a 9th grade.

An Executive Director of Communications position is opened.

After an exhaustive search lasting about two minutes, Broad Superintendent's Academy graduate Paul Gill (yes, father of the principal researcher from RAND and Mathmatica) is hired as Chief Operations Officer. The Board approves reimbursement of $12,500 in relocation expenses for Gill. He would stay less than one year."


Questioner said...

WHY is it that the Roosevelt administration decided to replace almost all officers (operations, human resource, technology, financial, etc). These are people that had experience and demonstrated loyalty to the district.

Anonymous said...

Well, it could be that people hired had "connections" right?

The joke among some parents at the time was that the admin was trying to increase the population of the city by bringing in as many out-of-towners as possible.

Anonymous said...

An easy question to answer given Roosevelt's lack of experience and expertise in education. Broad and Gates needed just that to take control. Loyalty to the District was an obstruction and a liability to the Broad/Gates Agenda.

One by one Broad/Gates set about taking over control of all positions and training for those positions H.R. (Talent Mgt), Broad Residencies/Directors, PELA for training administrators, and RISE and the Teacher Academy for acclimating new teachers to "fidelity" to the Broad/Gates. Many would have been convinced that this "Reform Agenda" was needed if PPS hadn't gone into academic decline.

Anonymous said...

The amount of time and money spent on PR is frightening.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it absolutely is frightening! Even more frightening is the need to do so. Good schools, successful students, high achievement, productive futures which spreads quite naturally by word of mouth would eliminate the need to spin the data on the failure and decline in PPS that is wide and deep.

The saddest part is that it is so doable; yet, it does not become reality without a belief in our children/students' capacity to reach their potential with, of course, the right kind of education.

Anonymous said...

Why did Roosevelt/Lane dump those without connections a few years later?

Questioner said...

As opposed to immediately? Think of the chaos if everyone had been fired the day Roosevelt walked in.

Anonymous said...

OR, maybe they were able to THINK for themselves, OR knew more than the Roosevelt regime. These two skills would have caused a serious problem within this regime. And though this may sound irrational it is the only way to have the control that was required.

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:16.

I think the "think" factor makes sense in a nonsensical way.

It is a shame.

Anonymous said...

What is most frightening is that most boardmemebers approved the spending on outrageous amounts of promotional materials.

Too many times when someone was leaving the position they held, often, through multiple administrations, some boardmembers took their turn around the table lauding and thanking the individual. It makes you wonder what was said at the executive sessions.

Anonymous said...

Clearly the Board members, maybe with the exception of Brentley, are mere puppets controlled by Lane (formerly Roosevelt) and company. They just rubber-stamp everything. Do they even really know what they are "voting" on? We could eliminate them and never notice the difference. How sad.

Anonymous said...

Board members do not seem to understand their role. They represent the public. They are there to protect the interests of the CHILDREN to the best of their ability, to be ADVOCATES for children, to guide the Administration toward what is BEST for children, not adults, administrators, consultants, Broad/Gates, etc.

What we see is continuing reduction of services to children as the adult agendas escalate!

Anonymous said...

I heard that Rand will be running Summer Dreamers next summer. They seem to continually "get involved" in PPS business. Who do they know since that seems to be the name of the game with PPS?

Anonymous said...


I cannot answer your question, nor can I explain why RAND is often involved in PPS matters, for I too am puzzled by this.

Does the District not have an office of "Research, Assessment and Accountability"? Why contract out to RAND when we already pay Paulette Poncelet 6 figures (plus the bonus awarded to Fishetti, Campbell, Lippert and the other top minds for their spirited leadership) to run the research office?

When was the last time this office researched something? It is difficult to tell, with contracts to RAND, Mathematica, WeStat...

Questioner said...

It seems like this PPS office spends a fair amount of time "cleaning up" initial PSSA results.

Anonymous said...

Rand running Summer Dreamers is just crazy unless the plan to pay for it too!!