Saturday, March 23, 2013

Superintendent contract

On another post Anonymous wrote:

Whoa! Only ONE person negotiates a several hundred thousand contract for the Superintendent of a 25,000 students school district.

Oh, my goodness!

The Board President just made this statement.

Also, did anyone hear how the State Law was circumvented to allow the Superintendent's contract be renewed?

Oh, my goodness!

Not meeting AYP because criteria have been raised?

On another post Anonymous wrote:

ossibly a new post:

On the (now) televised Legislative Meeting, Mrs. Hazuda proclaimed that PPS will probably not make AYP again this years because “the criteria have been raised”.

My question is: Why would you NOT expect or require that the CRITERIA be RAISED when in fact PPS is far below the PA State Standards for “Proficiency.”

(And, again, comparatively speaking PPS is 494th if number of districts in PA is 500. (Whatever the number of districts, there are only six districts that are poorer in proficiency in the state of Pennsylvania.)

PPS students are NOT well-served in a District that is in CORRECTIVE ACTION II, 4th year after 10 years of accountability to the very SAME PA Academic Standards. And yet a Board member states that we will NOT make AYP because the criteria has been raised. Does the PPS Board expect the criteria be lowered so that Pittsburgh can make AYP? Unbelievable!

Mrs. Colaizzi states that achievement is higher than it has ever been, yet, after 10 years of trying to reach the PA standard PPS is 30 to 40 to 50 points below the State minimum standard. The majority of African American students are more than 50 pts below the standard. Ten years ago they were only 20 points below the standard.

The facts are the facts and they are publicly accessible on the PDE website. To believe the PPS PR spin is truly unconscionable and DIS-SERVES our children who deserve “equity and excellence.”

Friday, March 22, 2013

Thursday, March 21, 2013

PPS financial predictions v. actual outcome

On another post Anonymous wrote:

New post:

So at the March 5, 2013 Finance meeting Budget Officer Ronald Joseph told the Board that fiscal 2012 - which ended December 31, 2012 - would end in more than a $6 million dollar deficit, meaning that expenses would be higher than revenues.

Oh what a difference two weeks makes.

Fast forward to March 20, 2013. The financial report in the Board Minutes reveals that fiscal 2012 actually ended with a SURPLUS on the year of more than $7 million.

Municipal accounting allows for a 60 day runout of revenues and expenditures, meaning that all activity would have ended on February 28, 2013.

Memo to Pete Camarda and Ron Joseph: exactly how did your forecast of 2012 - one week after all activity would have been recorded - get it wrong by $13 million? Does this mean that you aren't really tracking year to date budget to actual and associated variances?

How do you get it wrong by $13 million when the year is over and cry poor at the March 5th meeting?

Folks, it's even worse. The statements reflect a $1 million transfer to the unemployment compensation fund, a $1 million transfer to the General Liability fund, and a $2 million transfer to the self insurance health care fund. Without those transfers, the actual 2012 surplus would have been more than $11 million. How many of those transfer were done AFTER you realized how bad your forecast was?

This is the second year in a row that the district has run a very large surplus on the year while crying poor in public.

Why exactly should we trust your projections for 2013 or any other year? Two weeks and all activity had ceased!

Take this a step further - with the roughly $14 million fund balance growth over the last two years, why did the district enact a tax increase for 2013? Did we cut more teachers than we needed to?

It's time for a full investigation.

Problem with CBA's

On another post Anonymous wrote:

Please use this to start a new post!


Ok, I'm mad. No, mad doesn't quite cover it. Totally disgusted is probably closer to the truth! In January, high school students took CBAs--benchmark tests that serve as the final exam grades in each course. These scores are also used, however, to determine teacher effectiveness and are a part of the yeacher's "Value Added Measure". There were so many issues surrounding this test administration, however, that the Union has informed it's membership that the score will be disregarded and not used for any teacher evaluation purposes. Bravo to the teachers for managing to bring to the administration the issues, and kudos to the Board for agreeing that it was such a horrid situation that scores are invalid. What has my panties in a bunch, however, is the fact that to date, NO ATTEMPT HAS BEEN MADE TO DISREGARD THE GRADES FOR STUDENTS! Why are we allowing our children to be evaluated via final exam grades when the test scores were not valid!?? My son saw a marked decrease in his GPA due to poor final exam grades. As he is a junior, that GPA may now hinder him in his ability to be accepted to certain universities. It may also negatively impact his Promise Readiness status. I am outraged that our children are being made to suffer the sins of an inadequate and unreliable series of tests. We need to come together and demand that if the scores were invalid enough to be discounted in the evaluation of teachers, they should also be thrown out as valid indicators of the achievement of our kids.

Angry and Disgusted Parent

Could extra time be the solution?

Let's hypothesize that some kids enter first grade a year or two behind- they don't know letters or shapes or have a basic understanding of addition or subtraction.  And let's say the school moves them forward a year's worth of learning; they will still not be proficient on that year's tests.  And then the next year, if they make a year's worth of progress they will still not be proficient on the tests for that current grade.  If each year the children are actually proficient at a level a year or two behind their actual grade, then could it be that because they started behind they just need a year or two of extra schooling to attain a high school level education?  And that the answer might be to provide those who start at a disadvantage with a year or two of compensatory education, ideally in a way that is interesting and engaging so that they will want to attend, and maybe with some opportunities to earn some money? Could the solution be to give a little extra time to those who need it?

Link to PCNTV daily schedule

Broadcasts of PPS meetings and the mayoral debate take place at various times throughout the day and night:

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


On another post Mark Rauterkus wrote:

Article in the school newspaper, the Obama Eagle...

Broken Promise? The Pittsburgh Promise and UPMC
Posted: 19 Mar 2013 02:04 PM PDT
According to Michael Lamb, Pittsburgh Democratic mayoral candidate, there is no promise. Sure, there’s the promise that Pittsburgh Public School students will get money for going to college in Pennsylvania. But what about UPMC’s promise to fund it?
The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, known as UPMC, is what is referred to as a nonprofit organization. It does do a lot of good in the Pittsburgh area, primarily by the life-saving medicine they provide.
However, according to the most recent data available, makes $801 million in profits a year, not including millions of dollar a year and a private jet for the owner Chris Gessner. It also owns $1.6 billion worth of tax-exempt property, 86% of which is designated as exempt from taxes by the local government, according to a recent Pittsburgh Post-Gazette investigation. UPMC is also known to have paid maintenance employees so low that they have to rely on food banks.
The main difference from a nonprofit such as UPMC and a for-profit corporation, in reality, is taxes. While the corporate tax rate in America is 12% (Wall Street Journal) plus 10% (Pennsylvania Department of Revenue) for Pennsylvania state tax, nonprofit organizations are exempt from tax entirely. So a company that makes $801 million a year should pay about $176 million in taxes per year.
UPMC announced in 2007 a “$100 million commitment to help students graduating from Pittsburgh Public Schools further their education after high school,” according to their website. However, “UPMC will give $1.00 for every $1.50 that is contributed to The Pittsburgh Promise Fund” (, with a limit of $100 million in the next ten years. Last year, $7.5 million was raised by the city, so UPMC donated only $5 million. In comparison $176 million, $5 million a year is a very small amount to donate.
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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Mayoral candidate debate

On another post Anonymous wrote:

Sunday's mayoral debate (new topic) and question. Since they were at Obama, the candidates seemed focused on education. The media with usual bias, only ran some of the candidates points.,so I may not have this right, sounded like Mr. Perduto stated that the PROMISE MONEY should be used to expand preschool education. I thought the foundations etc. set the parameters for these funds. Was someone there? Did Darlene Harris say anything meaningful- since she was on the board previously?

Saturday, March 16, 2013

State finanical watch list

On another post Anonymous wrote:

Included the last article because there is a quote from PPS's spokesperson Ebony Pugh. Seems out of context for the article because there is no other mention of PPS in the piece. Brings up question: is PPS on the radar to be placed on this list with their pending financial crisis?

Fadzen lawsuit

On another post Anonymous wrote:

New posts from today's PG:

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Extension of superintendent's contract

On another post Anonymous wrote:

The extension of Linda Lane's contract until 2016 was announced at the Agenda Review by the solicitor. The Superintendent's contract extension will be voted on at next Wednesday's Legislative Meeting, March 20th.

The Public Hearing is Monday, March 18th.

Admission to Pittsburgh magnet and charter schools can be difficult

From the PG:

Four leaving school board

On another post Anonymous wrote:

New topic from today's PG:

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Diane Ravitch starts an opposition group

On another post Anonymous wrote:


Diane Ravitch starts effort to work against groups like Michelle Rhee's Students First.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Problems at Perry

On another post Anonymous wrote:

The enclosed is a very sad story for Perry Traditional-why? student-to-perform-lap-dances-in-class/

This should be another entry

In so many words, did the Police help save the current Perry Principal’s job for now? They should not have to be going to this level-when she should be visible and doing her job. This is a disgrace to our community. This should have never happened in the first place!

This Principal is not a person that deserves to lead this transition of two schools. This is just one of the many issues at Perry and many parents feel for the students that it is time for a change. As well as, the Perry teachers need a leader.

If you really read this article-this shows some points that question how this could happen in school-even if true or not true-it just shows that this Principal has the wrong consecutiveness for leadership-her own consecutiveness-is look at me and me-me.

With the so-called great transition for two high schools into one-Where in the world was the famed Principal in charge-of this school?

As a parent, I have many questions of her tactics to be visible as a disciplinarian of teachers and students. She allowed this to happen on her watch-many just feel she needs demoted to another job. Many parents and students question her over-self-concern with herself-even with this ongoing investigation-they state she was more into her image and relationships with the law enforcement to preserve her image even to a point that would be need to be questioned of another 33 year old into oneself.
Many parents are irate with her own personal background and agenda. She lacks very serious organizational, leadership disciplining roles. This did not happen at another school-this Principal allowed this school to slide down to this level-to a decline level of disgrace.

The Pittsburgh Police got her out of this mess-if Fadzen was here-this would have been dealt with in a better. Moral is bad for the teachers and student.
This teacher resigned and is no longer employed. Thank heavens!

Where was the Principal?

There are other chaotic iisues and disaray at this building!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Closing schools 4 choice and excellence

On another post Anonymous wrote:

New Post:
Time to start thinking about more schools closing in 2015! This blog post by EdShyster "Closing Schools 4 Choice (and excellence) is meant to be funny but it is ALL TRUE.

The esteemed Broad Foundation developed a School Closure Guide based, in part, on the wonderful work of PPS in 2005. The school closure guide gives details on how to close schools, while at the same time making the community believe that it is in the best interest of students. No kidding!

A must read! According to the timeline, PPS is already well into the planning process to close schools and will start letting us know real soon.