Sunday, October 16, 2011

How we got where we are Part XXVIII (March 2009)

On another post Anonymous wrote:


How we got where we are, part 28, March 2009

March 25, 2009: The America's Choice contract for Accelerated Learning Academies is extended by seven months at a cost of $614,000.

Randall Taylor objects to the continuation of the ALA model: “We received information that the Administration has wanted us to receive, but we have yet to be able to receive the questions that this particular Board member and I think members of the public have continued to ask and not receive answers to.”

The Board approves a $202,993 contract “with Blanc Printing Company for printing, assembly, design, editing and pre-production and mailing services for the 2009-10 welcome back-to-school materials.” Amendments are made to the code of student conduct, with Deputy Superintendent Lane urging approval so they could make the print production.

Contracts for plumbing ($218,000), mechanical ($182,540) and electrical work ($298,000) are awarded for Pittsburgh Schenley at Reizenstein. The $1,166,000 lowest bid for the general work is rejected, because it exceeds the district's variable cap for compliance with the eligible business enterprise policy.

Bids are awarded for “General, Asbestos Abatement, Plumbing, Mechanical and Electrical Work” at Pittsburgh Science and Technology Academy in the amount of $10,399,470.

Multiple contracts for the Institute for Learning start bearing fruit as the Board approves “a travel waiver for Dr. Linda Lane, Deputy Superintendent, to travel for Professional Development to Chantilly,VA April 30 - May 2, 2009, for the Institute for Learning Retreat. This trip will result in 2 professional development days. The purpose of this trip is as a follow up to the February 2009 Superintendents and Intermediaries meeting and will focus on what it takes to make ALL students, college and workforce ready. The retreat includes Deputy Superintendents, Superintendents and Executive Directors from districts across the county working with IFL. This is an annual trip and expenses included as part of our contract with IFL cover mileage, accommodations, selected meals, and
registration only.”

A similar waiver is also granted for Dr. Jerri Lippert, Chief Academic Officer, “because of the importance of the ongoing partnership with the IFL.” Indeed.

The Roosevelt/Lane/Fischetti/Weiss administration continues central office expansion with the opening of a Project Coordinator and three Project Managers to plan for spending Stimulus Funding.

The financial statements remind the Board and administration that “Significant efforts must be made to reduce operating costs”, “further efforts at efficiency and effectiveness are needed”, and “extreme diligence remains necessary throughout the 10-year projection, escalated further by projected PSERS employer contribution rate increases.”

Mark Brentley gets the message, stating that “I am one Board member who believes we should not immediately begin to spend, spend, spend.”

Taylor's comments about the agenda are again prophetic: “I don't have a lot of confidence in this Board sometimes to hear very common sense things.”

Despite the stern fiscal warnings, “the Board of Directors of the School District of
Pittsburgh authorize the proper officers of the Board to bring forward recommendations to enter into contracts for the grant writing required for a proposal to be submitted to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, not to exceed $75,000 and for the proposals for grants from stimulus funds (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act), not to exceed $175,000.”

Fast forward to 2011 and the seeds of the local match necessary to support arguably unsustainable partnerships are beginning to blossom, all called for in the July 2009 Empowering Effective Teachers plan, including “building consolidation”, “teacher distribution” (increased student teacher ratios), and “operating efficiencies” (layoffs). See also pages 53-54 of the original PPS grant submission to the Gates Foundation."


A word from Bellefield said...

For years sugarplum visions of Reizenstein fetching vast sums at sale guided planning by Mr. Roosevelt and Dr. Lane's academic teams.

At one point, CORO fellows working under the direction of Derrick Lopez were peddling the idea that Reizenstein could fetch $40 million.

Even when faced with very detailed pro formas and example site plans of mixed use developments suggesting underlying value of less than $6 million, the Roosevelt/Lane/Fischetti/Weiss administration would not be deterred:

-Cate Reed was given the unequivocally clear mission to lead the IB site selection committee to choose Peabody;

-Irrational investments, such as the funds spent to move the robotics program to Peabody or monies used to split Reizenstein into two "schools" (temporary IB and last two classes of Schenley), were cavalierly discounted by some false hope that the sale of Reizenstein would make us forget them;

-The Dejong study favored Reizenstein over Peabody not because Reizenstein was a modern classic (the building's sins are well documented), but because it's one of PPS' only properties that is large enough to some day build a more modern middle/high school with adequate parking on pretty neutral turf.

What a sad day for Pittsburgh.

South Hills Stan said...

Nice article in the Washington Post highlights very familiar themes including a public school district faced with the consequences of what happens when the private funding merry-go-round comes to an end:

"Rhee’s reform efforts also drew unprecedented levels of philanthropic contributions. The D.C. Public Education Fund has raised $30 million and secured an additional $50 million in commitments for a series of initiatives, including initial work on IMPACT and teacher raises and bonuses.

But it remains to be seen whether the funding will continue to flow. A new commission studying charter school funding could recommend more support for the publicly financed and independently operated schools. The $64 million committed by the Broad, Arnold, Robertson and Walton foundations for D.C. teacher bonuses and raises runs out next fall. Unless private funders once again step up, the city will be expected to carry the expense on its own, at an estimated annual cost of $30 million.

It’s a price tag that will take more than Michelle Rhee’s formidable legacy to meet."