Friday, December 30, 2011

Choice of 14 CCSD Board Candidates Down to 6

Apparently, the opportunity to sit on the Charleston County School District Board of Trustees is a coveted one. How else to explain the plethora of individuals willing to serve out the unexpired term of Mary Ann Taylor? Maybe some of these individuals would like to serve but not to run for election.

Recommendation #1: Any candidate not planning to run for election when Taylor's term expires should not be appointed. Rationale: The district doesn't need a bench-warmer who will take most of the term to figure out what his or her responsibilities are and what's going on in the district--if that's possible.  That eliminates Brian Moody, who actually volunteers just to warm the seat, not that we need any more Chamber of Commerce lackeys on the Board--it has enough clout already!

Recommendation #2: The Board needs members with business or financial experience who can question the budget process. Bringing transparency and public confidence to the district's finances should be the candidate's first priority. That eliminates a few more: Luther W. Seabrook, who doesn't state his background but is retired from education; Jan Roberts, also retired from educational administration; Susan Milliken, non-practicing attorney of unspecified legal speciality; Deborah Bootle Ducker, retired teacher and principal; Rew "Skip" Godow, Jr., retired from Trident Technical College administration; Craig H. Jelks, middle school history teacher; and Trent Kernodle, practicing attorney specializing in products liability and construction law.

We have six candidates who have business experience in some form.

As we all know, there's business experience, and then there's business experience. What would prepare the individual for the task at hand? Remember those outside directors at Enron? (see previous posting)

Memory Lane 2010: Burke's AP Academy

This time last year, I blogged concerning the poor results of AP testing at Superintendent Nancy McGinley's much-touted AP Academy at Burke High School.

Has anything changed (i.e., improved)? It's too much to hope that my recommendations were followed!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Think Differently on CCSD Board of Trustees

It's time for serious thought on the duties of school-district boards of trustees.

Scandals at Enron, HealthSouth, Tyco, and Worldcom point to the problem of outside directors not knowing enough about the corporations' accounting practices to fulfill their duty as watchdogs of management. What past corporate managment sought was directors of outstanding achievement in fields not directly related to its business whose names would look good on the masthead and who would feel "honored" to serve as figureheads. We have suffered the end result. Perhaps with Sarbanes-Oxley directors will treat their duties as more than honorary.

You may already have spotted the similarity to the Charleston County School District and its Board of Trustees. When school districts were small and handled what CCSD would consider "chump change" now, having trustees (i.e., "outside directors") who viewed their positions as honorary or believed that finding problems within the "system" would hurt the community or were hand-selected by the superintendent (i.e., "management") to run for "election," were relatively harmless in the damage they could wreak. Not so today.

It is past time for the CCSD Board of Trustees to grasp the enormity of their duties. The last element needed in a newly-appointed member to the Board is sycophancy, nor will the presence of an additional dilletante ameliorate a difficult situation. Think of the responsibilities of Superintendent McGinley as gravely as those of Enron, if you like. Hundreds of millions of your tax dollars spew out of 75 Calhoun every year, affecting every corner of the district and your taxes. If its Board of Trustees is as ignorant of how this money gets directed and spent as were the outside directors of Enron, it must share the liability when the bubble bursts--and it will at some point, just like Enron or the housing market.

For Maria Goodloe-Johnson, the bubble finally burst in Seattle last March. We have no reason to believe that her management style, nor McGinley's, was any more effective during her tenure in Charleston.

Maybe, just maybe, Seattle's board took its role as watchdog more seriously, especially in regard to finances and auditing.

*ALERT* Goodloe-Johnson Sighting in West Ashley BI-LO

Yes, it's true.

Let's hope former Charleston County School District Superintendent (and now-embattled Seattle Superintendent) Maria Goodloe-Johnson is merely visiting her in-laws.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Some Needed Common Sense on SC Education Grants

Round up the usual suspects--the tax-and-spend party rallies against Republican State Superintendent of Education Mick Zais.

Why? Because Zais refuses to apply for federal grants that then turn into unfunded federal mandates.

His opponents don't see anything wrong with that.


Monday, December 19, 2011

Fraser and Four Others Sit Rotting in CCSD

Finally the P&C has done a follow-up of students affected by Superintendent McGinley's school-redesign plans of two years ago. Remember, closing five schools was going to improve the progress of these students (and was not merely a way for the Superintendent to improve her statistics?).

What do the results show? McGinley complains that those parents who chose which school the child would attend didn't always choose high-performing schools! (Yes, Nancy, maybe parents without reliable transportation of their own didn't want their children bused to the back-of-beyond!). It's the parents' fault that their children's scores haven't improved since they chose the wrong schools.

What a minute. If some schools are "wrong," why are they still open for business? Her defense is logically ridiculous. McGinley can argue that lack of progress is mainly the parents' fault, but their real choice of schools is the one they were not given.

Five forlorn school buildings sit vacant and neglected. If past performance is any measure of the district's care, soon they will be unuseable. Why have they not been leased?

Meanwhile,  McGinley can point to her own statistics that received a major bump when she closed the five neighborhood schools. It's all for the children, don't you know?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

CCSD's McGinley Promises Future Transparency

Oh, sorry! That was the caption for the Onion story!

How about "McGinley Promises More Self-Satisfaction in 2016"?

To anyone familiar with shenanigans during Nancy McGinley's opaque reign as Superintendent of the Charleston County Schools, her periodic op-ed commentary has become its own joke. In fact, her words are almost impossible to satirize, given their ludicrous background.

This caveat in mind, I hesitated for twenty-four hours to read McGinley's latest public relations ploy that appeared in Friday's P&C. I'm glad I did because reading that in January and February she will invite the public to "public engagement" meetings to "finalize" her goals for 2016 would jeopardized my breakfast.

McGinley has already set her goals; the meetings will merely publicize what she already has determined behind closed doors. Really, the "Vision" of McGinley's remaining as superintendent until 2016 should be enough to put anyone off. By then she will have eliminated every neighborhood school in the district and achieved 90 percent of students being bussed the length of Charleston County. The budget for gasoline (a state secret) will pass the cost of teachers' salaries, and the cost of her two dozen associate superintendents will pass even the bus budget. Further, every school built prior to McGinley's arrival in Charleston will have been razed to the ground in the name of earthquakes.

How's that vision for 2016?

Monday, December 12, 2011

CCSD Letter Missing from News Report

Where's the letter?

The workers outsourced by the Charleston County School District when it decided to save money on the backs of its poorest-paid employees will get more money after all. Why? Depends on whom you listen to.

According to CCSD "school leaders," those workers received a "poorly written letter" at the end of July and were so stupid (implied) that they misinterpreted the amount of severance they would receive. The P&C has no idea who wrote the letter, apparently being afraid to ask Mike Bobby, the district's chief financial officer, in case he might admit that he either wrote or approved it before it went out. The P&C was also afraid to ask for a copy of the letter to verify where the confusion lay.

So, out of the goodness of its heart (strings, please), CCSD will pay out to those workers what the letter appeared to them to promise.

In its relentless quest to present both sides of the issue, the P&C interviewed one custodian who was outsourced but still works at Drayton Hall Elementary.

Hellooooo. What about the former employees who brought suit against the district?
Their lawyers? Those who weren't rehired by the companies now running custodian services?

Nary a whisper.

How about: CCSD admits it goofed in its promises to these workers and, facing a lawsuit it was sure to lose, chose to put the best face on its deficiency.

Makes you wonder what other "letters" and contracts were "poorly written."