Saturday, November 08, 2008

P & C Won't Touch $1200-A-Day CCSD Consultant

It doesn't matter that the money couldn't be used to hire another teacher for the Charleston County School District or that other educational consultants are paid more.

The important question is, is any educational consultant so valuable that his or her time should cost $1200 per day in a school district that is scraping around for funds? What could that person be adding that would be worth that much? That's what WCBD Channel 2 reports: School Consultant Paid $1200 a Day

Sandy Brossard is an educational consultant who serves several schools in Charleston county, including Stall High School in North Charleston at a fee of 12-hundred-dollars a day. News 2 checked with Stall principal Dan Conner, she visited the school twenty days last year, and collected more than 24-thousand dollars. The average teacher in Charleston county makes 253-dollars-a-day. Conner says, “She has been in on us doing our reform on Stall High School. Whether it be curriculum change, instructional changes as far as how we teach, our assessment strategies, Sandy has come in and led our charge to move this school forward, which our data will show, we are inching forward. We’re a Title-One school, the money that we’re given from the state in certain categories, you have to spend a percentage of that on professional development, so it’s not like I can say I ‘de rather get a teacher with this money. There is a percentage that has to be spent on professional development.” [italics mine] It’s all a part of an effort to improve student achievement in the classroom. Conner says it’s money well spent. He says, “Our HSAP scores have improved over the last two years, our ninth grade repeaters taking HSAP has almost doubled and in passage rate.”

The district is facing budget cuts, and may have to close schools, and from the calls and emails we received, some people believe the fee is too much. Conner says, “People want to keep hammering in on that 12-hundred dollars a day. Her networking there is no amount of money you can put on how valuable that has been for us. [italics mine] She’s worth ten times the money that we pay her because of her night and day, 24-7 information from her. She’s the best tool that I have had to use to help our kids in this school.”

Wando High School in Mount Pleasant received a grant to pay for the educational consultant. Principal Lucy Beckham says, “Sandy Brossard came into our lives five years ago. We were doing pretty good already as a high school, but not as well as we wanted to do. We applied for a comprehensive school reform grant.”[italics mine] Beckham says the 12-hundred-dollars-a day fee is not the issue. She says, “Anyone should want educators to get continuous training. Our goal is continuous improvement as a school. It doesn’t matter where the money comes from. A doesn’t matter if I raise it from the vending machine, state money, federal money, whatever kind of money, that’s not the issue. [italics mine] The issue is are our high schools getting better, are we putting together the right amount of support to take them to the next level.”

Louis Martin, associate superintendent for high schools for Charleston County School District tells News 2 money to pay for education consultants comes from technical assistance funds from the state. Martin says consultants have to be approved by district administrators, who monitor how money is spent. [italics mine] Martin says, “The money that’s being spent is all directed towards improving student achievement.”

According to Martin, last year Brossard visited seven low and high performing schools 59 times. At a rate of 12-hundred-dollars a day, totaling more than 70-thousand dollars. This year, she’s contracted for 38 days at the same fee. He says high school graduation rates at four of the seven schools that use the consultant have gone up.[because the way they were figured was changed!]

News 2 took the issue to school board chair Hillary Douglas. He says while training is essential, there may be ways to make cuts. Douglas says, “I thought they were excessive.” When asked if he thought the money would be better off spent elsewhere? Douglas says, “It could be, could be. We have needs all over the district. The district is not only looking at consultants, we’re looking at every contract the a we have to make sure we can save money.”

Principal Dan Conner says they’ve lost a lot of money this year, half a million dollars at Stall High School. For that reason, he can’t afford to hire Brossard this year, but he still gets help from her. Conner says, “She’s the gift that keeps on giving. I have no money for it, but I still talk to her three or four times a week or communicate via email or phone call.”

School district officials tell News 2 that Brossard’s fee of 12-hundred dollars a day is low compared to other consultants who charge more than 22-hundred a day. [italics mine]

Nancy Busbee, director of Office of Federal and State Accountability for the South Carolina Department of Education tells News 2, through the Technical Assistance fund, below average and unsatisfactory schools get between 75 to 250-thousand dollars to improve schools. Of that money, there is no limit on how much schools can pay consultants, as long as the school can show the service is meeting the school’s needs assessment.

News 2 checked with other school districts as well. Berkeley county has seven literacy and math coaches, who are employed by the district, but are paid according to the teacher pay scale, which range from 165 to 377 dollars a day. Dorchester district 2 does not use outside educational consultants.

Painful to read, isn't it?
The City Paper thought so and was contacted by Elliot Smalley in the district's defense after it published its questions--especially pertaining to what Brossard actually does and how successes can be traced back to her efforts:
The district’s spokesman Elliot Smalley got back to [Greg Hambrick] very quickly with his take on the News 2 piece.

“She’s one of the best high school consultants in the country, and she’s had a tremendous impact on our students,” he says. “That’s not ‘news’ — that’s a good investment, and one that progressive, high-performing districts all around the country are doing.”

Well, that explains all. One of the best in the country just happens to be located in Columbia, South Carolina.

I wonder what qualifies her to earn $1200 a day. She appears to be a school reform coach for High Schools That Work [see High Schools That Work] and at one time principal of Brookland-Cayce High School. Maybe we should call it job switches that work. $1200 per day.


Anonymous said...

Heck, They pay the Broad Consultant 15K, plus expenses to come in and do a one day board workshop. But, of course that was the whole deal when they sold Goodloe to us, that we hire their folks for everything else. Several of the CCSD employees are Broad Fellows

Anonymous said...

As a teacher, I had the priviledge to work with Ms. Brossard and she is worth every penny. She does everything an administrator can do but doesn't have the time becuase the district keeps the administrators out of the building so much.