Sunday, December 11, 2011

How we got where we are Part XXXII (July 2009)

On another post Anonymous wrote:


How we got where we are, part 32, July 2009

July 27, 2009: Central office expansion continues as the Board “accepts a grant award from the Fund for Excellence in Pittsburgh Public Schools for $841 ,773. Renewal support is awarded from the Fund for Excellence in the amount of $841,773 over 16 months for costs associated with the Office of Strategic Initiatives: The High School Plan for Excellence. Specifically, funding is awarded to support salary costs associated with the Office of Strategic Initiatives (OSI).”

It was a summer of giving, as the Roosevelt/Lane/Fischetti/Weiss administration recommends “an agreement to renew a contract with Dr. Judy Johnston to provide training, support, consultation and recommendations to Assistant Superintendents and up to 20 principals in support of the principal-evaluation program. This work will require direct work with assistant superintendents and principals in the form of one-on-one instructional coaching, school and classroom visits, interaction with the Teaching and Learning teams, and the gathering of evidence for performance standards. Services to be provided between August 1st, 2009 through July 31 st, 2010. This support will be provided to meet district proficiency standards as identified on the leadership evaluation rubric. This work is in conjunction with the principal
evaluation project. Total cost not to exceed $107,750.00 for up to 90 days of work in the district.”

Yes, you did the math correctly. At well over $1,000 per day Johnston's compensation was greater than the Superintendent's.

Patricia Kennedy, Executive Director of Communications, resigns, lasting less than one year under the iron rule of the Chief of Staff.

The Board votes to add a K-12 Gifted & Talented Coordinator, a luxury we did not have at 30,000 students.

Focus on Results also finds PPS to be a day at the beach, with the Board approving a contract “to provide 84 days of training and consulting to 5 secondary principals and their leadership teams” with an operating period from August 1, 2009 to July 31,2010. The rate of payment which includes consulting $2,300 per day, planning $650 per day, books and materials $1,000 and travel shall not exceed $257,670.”

The Board, except for Mark Brentley and Randall Taylor oblivious to the repeated warnings in writing that the trajectory of administrative costs and program expansion would jeopardize the district's solid financial footing, reward Superintendent Roosevelt with a raise.

Mr. Brentley's commentary is scorching: “During these tough times -- remember just this month we passed a very, very high increase within the communication and marketing. In some areas it's selective on who determines and who gets what.....It's been extremely difficult to get the superintendent to focus on equity....I raised concerns over the years about the program, the community educational partnership program. It's a problem. I had asked for this administration to address it....we cannot get caught up into the slick media campaigns....we found out in some cases recommendations that are made in terms of who gets what principalship has been or may be influenced by some former board members and some folks within the foundation community....We've watched as changes will be made, and Mr. Taylor and I would be left out often. And so yes, it's great you have the majority here, but what good is it for the district?...the fact of the matter is that I am still an elected official here. I still have a responsibility to the constituents who put me here, and regardless of the negative things that continue to happen, we know that this -- this community and this district is still a district in crisis....When asked about we're losing we're losing so many students, well, [Roosevelt] said well, we're managing decline. If we're managing decline, and if enrollment is constantly going down, why are salaries constantly going up? some point somebody's got to begin to ask some questions.”


Questioner said...

At last week's special legislative meeting on the budget Board member McCrea was puzzled about where a surplus of $50M the district had just a few years ago went. In the end he basically said oh well, what's done is done but maybe someone can point him to this series.

A Word from Bellefield said...


Tell them all to go back the April 2008 Finance Committee presentation.

A soft landing was still possible then, using three years of attrition and slamming the door shut on Broad/Gates, not chasing every front-loaded federal program etc.

What a shame.

Ashamed to Work Here said...

Q: fund balance at 12/31/10 was actually higher than it was at 12/31/09, something like $72 million.

Contrast that to 2011: March raises the day before the Governor's budget is released, $400,000 in financial consultants, Bill Johns regurgitating analysis he was handed in 2006 as though it is a new discovery...


West End Mom said...

Welcome back author of the "how we got series."

Thank you for your efforts.

Anonymous said...

Thanks "How we got where we are" investigators. Your work is valued. We can use it to demonstrate that there is yet the concept of "honesty" in a contemporary climate where 'anything' can be 'justified.'

Anonymous said...

Mr. McCrea is chair of two Board committees: Business/Finance and Ad Hoc-Audit. Oh well.




Anonymous said...

Complaining is all well and good; but, WHAT can be done about this situation.

Are there ANY alternatives or options or legal action or redress of any kind available to the public/taxpayers????

Anonymous said...

Never has the term "laughing all the way to the bank" been more appropriate than in the discussion of Judy Johnston.
What adjectives come to mind when describing the idea of her augmenting her retirement with consultant pay? Outrageous? Ludicrous?
If you need a poster child for all that is wrong with PPS--from PELA to administrator boorishness--she'd fit the bill quite nicely.
At a price, of course.

Questioner said...

Something taxpayers are entitled to receive is a list with the name of each consultant, the amount paid to date, and the actual results accomplished/ benefits received by PPS from that person's work.

Anonymous said...

And, exactly, what are the steps necessary for getting that information from the Board or Administration?

Questioner said...

A board member could request the information. Or a citizen could start a petition and obtain a convincing number of signatures. Or a citizen could contact the department of education, auditor general or other government official about the problem.

Anonymous said...

Questioner 6:37, uhmmmm, i think Brentley asked for that report serveral times already on record at meetings.

Questioner said...

Have you asked him if he received what he asked for, and to follow up in writing if not received? Are you sure he requested a summary of how the district benefited from each consultant?

Anonymous said...

You will not get this information. You might get lip service to your request, but not substance. This continues to happen more times than you can count.

Most requests or questions get a very superficial response. Sorry, facts are facts. What are the next steps, Questioner?

Questioner said...

It would be hard for PPS to respond to a request for each consultant name and the amount spent without providing the names and amounts. And lip service in response to the question about what benefits PPS received would only highlight wasted money.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, those at the table don't recognize lip service when they hear it as is demonstrated again and again on broadcasts of Agenda Review and Legislative Meetings. So, that is probably true of those beyond the table also.

Have you, Questioner, ever asked direct questions and received non-answers that sound good to you; but carry little substance?

Frankly, that is "how we got where we are."

(And in their defense, I'm not sure they know the difference.)

Questioner said...

Do (some of) those at the table not recognize lip service, or do they for whatever reason not want to recognize lip service?

Anonymous said...

Then it is the "for whatever reason" that must be addressed, for the public.

Questioner said...

Then more members of the public will need to take an interest in this question.

Anonymous said...

I really stinks having to worry about job all the time when you see all the money being wasted. I have had to worry about having a teaching job year after year. This is insane, after 10 years in this district I could not have a job next fall, thank you John Tarka and Nina, John is going to anouther district to screw it up.

Old Timer said...

Here's an invitation to readers:
Spend some over the upcoming holidays to read the board minutes. Don't do it on a full stomach, mind you, but resign yourself to becoming educated about this secret society that IS the board of education.

In particular, look at all of the payments being made to people NOT in the classroom. Then reflect on the long list of administrators who are salaried and also NOT in the classroom.

Then go to the personnel section to look at all of the resignations and terminations. Look at the personal leaves....and understand that this is all part of the RISE process---you know---the one that EMPOWERS TEACHERS.

Try not to be sick as you read all of this but come to a simple conclusion:

This superintendent and her well as the school board...proceed in a cavalier manner. They do not believe they are accountable to anyone and will proceed in that manner. They need no explanations for their actions and they feel no allegiance to the students of Pittsburgh Public Schools. This group is la cosa nostra of Pittsburgh. Quite frankly, it's shocking. They believe they are untouchable. Period.

In reading the PR piece about the superintendent and her staff "refusing pay raises" I almost threw up. First, pay raises for what??? Please explain. Second, these charlatans have gall.

You are going to furlough 400 teachers next year. What nerve.

I am hopeful that in 2012, these individuals and top PFT brass "get theirs." I pray that someday, somehow, they'll have to atone for their greed and arrogance.

Anonymous said...

Dear Old Timer, make no mistake about it, there will be reckoning.