Sunday, September 25, 2011

How we got where we are part XXVI January 2009

On another post Anonymous wrote:

How we got where we are, part 26, January 2009

January 21, 2009: The Board approves “an agreement with DeJong/Kimball Partnership to prepare long-term facilities' needs and utilization strategy. This study is required as part of the District's strategic planning for the future. Normally, these studies are done every 10 years. The last facilities study for Pittsburgh was done 12 years ago. The plan shall evaluate all the District's facilities' suitability, functional adequacy, technology readiness, code compliance, required capital upgrades, equitable distribution of resources and a plan for its future needs over the next ten years. This study shall result in a "Plan for the District's Future" that can be implemented.”

With so much at stake, the leadership team of Roosevelt/Lane/Fischetti/Weiss would no doubt attend every meeting of the cross-functional team, wouldn't they? Yeah right; don't look for this crew when the sun goes down if the camera is not rolling.

The Board also authorizes a $53,714 contract “with Grant Communications Consulting Group who worked with the Division of Communications and Marketing to produce the first two issues of The Pittsburgh Educator which were published in May and October 2008. Services provided included writing, photography and design; coordination of printing and mailing. Approval of this contract will authorize Grant Communications Consulting Group to continue working with Communications and Marketing to produce two additional issues scheduled for publication in the Spring and Fall of 2009."

The Board approves a $50,000 increase for the contract with the Law Offices of Ira Weiss “for professional services related to Real Estate Tax Matters, Bankruptcy Cases and Tax Increment Financing (TIF) matters” for the year ended December 31, 2008. “The need for an amendment is driven by the significant amount of base year appeals filed by Allegheny County.” This contract, which carries a base year amount of $215,000, is over and above the monthly retainer for Solicitor services.

Fast forward to 2011. Does anyone else feel uncomfortable that it was a lawsuit filed by the Law Offices of Ira Weiss that started us down the path of another Countywide reassessment for values that will be used starting in January 2012?

With some estimates of the number of appeals reaching 100,000 in Allegheny County, the big winner of the reassessment is not school districts or municipalities – by law they are prohibited from receiving a windfall – the big winner is those law firms that stand to generate a significant amount of business by filing and defending against appeals. Brilliant strategy Counselor, no wonder you are too busy in Pittsburgh to represent the Montour School District any longer.

Paul Gill, Chief Operations Officer and Broad Superintendent's Academy graduate, resigns his position after less than one year on the job. He retains the moving expenses the district reimbursed. In less than three years he has been to two different California school districts.

Mark Brentley proposes a policy that would have required the administration to respond to public speakers with 48 hours.

Brentley explains: “If you talk to some parents, they say that when they come up with real important issues, the first thing they say is you're pointed to the Parent Hotline. The Parent Hotline gives them a voice mail. The Parent Hotline will give someone who will take a note and it then starts right back into that vicious circle. Parents, taxpayers have got to be brought into the loop in this Administration....We're left to react after the Administration has already made the move....Here is an opportunity of saying to the public we're not perfect, but we can simply listen to your response, and we're going to work on it and try to get back to you in a timely fashion.”

The resolution is defeated by a vote of 2-7, with only Mr. Taylor supporting it.


Questioner said...

Only 2 years after all the meetings and surveys and the final deJong report, the district is not by and large following any sort of strategy laid out in the report. Instead, schools are being thrown together on a geographic basis under a plan could have been drawn up by the administration in a few hours (Oliver to Perry, Langley to Brashear, Peabody to U Prep and Westinghouse etc).

Angry Taxpayer said...

Another interesting article in this morning's Tribune Review. Are we starting to see signs of life that the Trib is not on the Pathway to the Press Release?

Anonymous said...

Speaking of the Pittsburgh Educator, did anyone catch the article about the teachers' academies right before it was announced that there would be no teachers' academies because they did not have any need to hire new teachers?

Glad PPS is on top of national trends (as opposed to national PR):

Career Switchers Face Dwindling Job Supply.
The AP (9/26) relates the story of a South Carolina woman with "a degree in early childhood education and tens of thousands of dollars in student loans to repay, but no teaching job," noting that the decades-long trend of high teacher demand has fallen victim to the recession, which has "upended the conventional wisdom that a teaching job is a golden ticket to career stability." Meanwhile, "a national survey of school districts in June by the Center on Education Policy estimated that 48 percent of them cut teaching jobs last school year." The AP notes that this trend of increased job scarcity applies to recent graduates as well as career switchers, "because of school district rules that require administrators to lay off the most recently hired teachers first, meaning some graduates lucky enough to find a job are out of work within a year."

Anonymous said...

I hope you are right angry taxpayer- but when I read the trib article I worried that the example they "happened to choose" was a parent upset with the situation on Take your father to school day-- which we know Mark Brentley srarted-- I personally know alot of calls to the hot line-- resulting in parents being ignored by principals- of unsafe conditions within schools- there are alot of people they could have interviewed-- and I hope they do.