Tuesday, February 28, 2012

First Step: Insult New CCSD Board Member

Despite the fact that the Charleston County School District Board of Trustees has been short one member since November, Chairman Chris Fraser refused to allow the governor's appointee, Brian Thomas, to be sworn in so that he could attend Monday night's regularly scheduled executive session. Instead, Thomas, whose nomination was delivered to the district last week, cooled his heels outside with the general public until the session was over.

Naturally, Thomas, though belatedly sworn in, could not vote during the open board meeting when executive session items were decided.

Before Thomas even attended a meeting, the superintendent decided he was an enemy--to her and her toady Chris Fraser.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Pep Rally Silliness for CCSD Testing

The Innovation Zone Learning Committee of the Charleston County School District (or IZLCCCSD, as it is fondly called) seems to have run out of effective ideas. Today another pep rally, organized by CCSD Associate Superintendent James Winbush, was held in North Charleston to encourage students' excitement over PASS testing.

The excitement will need to last until March 20.

Winbush suggests that excitement has caused scores to rise in the past. Huh? I'd like to see solid evidence for that.

Meanwhile, since students from 14 schools attended the event, how much was the cost of bussing them in? How much instructional time was lost from the classroom?

Oh, I forgot. Excitement will trump knowledge every time.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Tea Partier Thomas Finally on CCSD Board

Will sparks fly?

Will newly-appointed Charleston County School Board of Trustees member Brian Thomas (replacing the resigned Mary Ann Taylor) join the majority of toadies to the superintendent, or will he have a mind of his own?

Given several contentious problems on the front burner in coming weeks, it shouldn't take long to find out.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Studer Stonewalls CCSD Board Request

At the end of January Charleston County School Board of Trustee members made a request of Studer, the edublob company responsible for the parent-satisfaction study.

It was a simple request, hardly taking five minutes to answer: what are the four school districts that Studer used for comparison to CCSD?

Three weeks later and counting--no answer. Top secret, are they?

Add this one to the total weight of non-transparency in the district.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

CCSD's Stealth Contract Extension for Lewis

It was a dark and stormy night when Bill Lewis's job performance flew under the radar.

Well, anyway it was dark on Monday night when CCSD Superintendent McGinley pulled the wool over the public's eyes--and the Post and Courier compounded her subterfuge by spiking the story.

At last Monday's Board of Trustees meeting, not only was a contract extension for Bill Lewis labeled on the public agenda as a "personnel matter," but the contract itself was not available to trustees in their executive session. The packets provided to Board members simply mentioned a "contractual matter." Any discussion of Lewis's job performance or erratic behavior with the public was also shut down, even in the executive session, nor did McGinley produce a performance evaluation.

I guess we know who wears the pants in this family.

I could have sworn that McGinley worked for the Board and not vice versa.

Lewis, who is in charge of the District's 2011-2016 building program, was granted a contract extension until July of 2016. What was the rush? His present contract does not expire until July of this year, nearly six months from now. At $164,000 per year and an all-expenses-paid car, he is the second-highest paid official in CCSD. Thanks to the contract extension, he will also receive any pay raises that are given to teachers in coming years.

It all fits the pattern of lack of transparency in the district. It makes some wonder what Lewis, who isn't even qualified as a P.E. in the State of South Carolina, holds over McGinley.

Monday, February 13, 2012

858 No-Doc Students Ignored by CCSD Audit

The Charleston County School District counts 858 students as not having the necessary documentation to show that they live in the district.

That's enough to fill an entire school.

Why isn't that the headline instead of the audit's not finding more than 15 out-of-county students at the magnet high schools?


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Artful Dodging on School of the Arts Vacancies

Who gave Principal James Reinhart of the Charleston County School District's School of the Arts the idea that he should recruit students from out of county? The district's own forced audit turned up nine miscreants. Reinhart (or should I say, McGinley) defends not filling those slots with county residents by pointing out that no remaining students are on the waiting lists for those particular "majors."

If there are any on waiting lists for other "majors," perhaps some idiot has misjudged how many slots are needed for each. Could that be possible, given that the number of vacant seats at SOA is actually quite a bit larger than those sitting empty at AMHS?

Can you say "Mismanagement McGinley"?

Thursday, February 09, 2012

The Company Nobody Knows in CCSD

A "not for profit" company messes up the MAP scores used to decide which students need to enroll in CCSD's First Grade Academies, causing hours of extra labor by Charleston County School District staff to straighten out records.

The Post and Courier reports what happened, except for one very pertinent detail: the "not for profit" shall remain nameless! Newsless courier, indeed.

My theory is that the company, which does get paid, of course, is still employed by the district in several other aspects. Therefore, it would be too embarrassing to name it for fear that some Board of Trustees member might query, "Why do we still pay that company to do anything for us?"

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Academic Magnet: 70 Vacancies Raise Questions

By its own admission, the Charleston County School District has neglected to fill 70 seats at the Academic Magnet High School, causing a vacancy rate of 10 percent in the district's flagship school, the one with the waiting lists. The one with the waiting lists?

Superintendent McGinley can make all the excuses that she wants (and she will), but this uncontested fact reeks of mismanagement. Are there waiting lists or not?

Apologists will argue that attrition caused these vacancies, that students drop out of the AMHS program when they find it too demanding. Wow! And, miraculously, it was hot last summer, too. Also, snowballs melt in hell (although not too close to Dante's Satan).

All classes suffer attrition from the first day of high school. Planning wisely prevents seats that could benefit county residents' children from going begging. A simple expansion of the AMHS ninth grade by about 35 students this coming year would go a long way in reducing the vacancy rate in following years.

Don't you wonder why no one on the administrative end of CCSD has figured that out? Parents of ninth-grade applicants who were placed on the AMHS waiting list should sue the district. Maybe that would get someone's attention.