Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Few Updates

Ann Arbor:
Budget Forums THIS Monday and Tuesday
The forums will begin at 6:30 p.m. at these locations:
Monday, April 12
Pioneer High School's Little Theater, 601 W. Stadium Blvd.
Tuesday, April 13
Huron High School's Little Theater, 2727 Fuller Rd.
Also, Schools of Choice materials are available now.

The Dexter Superintendent, Rob Glass, is a semi-finalist for the Bloomfield Hills school superintendent position. He is also having a "Coffee and Conversation time" on April 21, from 7-8 a.m., at Foggy Bottom Coffee Shop. So go ask him your questions.
I also like what he had to say on his blog post about the MEAP (and I like the title of the blog itself: Glass Half Full).
Then, after savoring the moment [good district MEAP scores] for a good 30 seconds, I came back to my senses, acknowledging that these scores are very limited in both their use and their meaning. After all, districts who ‘live’ by the sword of standardized testing should beware lest they ultimately ‘die’ by the same.
Congratulations to Saline Middle School student Jacob Tanner, who is Michigan's state geography champion and is going to the National Geography Bee. I probably wouldn't call that out, except that I love geography, once worked in a map library, and have an environmental studies degree. And geography is a lot more than maps!

Saline is getting an updated web site, according to the Superintendent's Blog. I already thought that the Saline web site was the best one among the local schools, so I'm looking forward to the unveiling. (No, don't get a swelled head, Saline-ites--it still had its share of broken links and missing information, but at least most of the time, if the information was there, you could find it.)

Notices have gone out to the Chappelle families about their choices for the upcoming school year. I will be curious to see how that goes. I've also heard a fair number of rumblings as to whether there really was an open process regarding the school closings, or whether "the fix was in" and the decision was made before the process. I'm hoping someone will FOIA the appropriate documents, and find out. If, in fact, the process was truly open, I think that would soothe some ruffled feathers. And if not, well--people should know.

Willow Run:
A book could probably be written about the trials and tribulations of this district. The school board appears to really be coming together, the district has joined the Early College Alliance, people seem to like the acting superintendent...BUT if the allegations from the past few years are true, then it is amazing the district is still standing!
To wit:
The detailed allegations against Hope-Jackson are substantial, AND that
The former board president appears to have signed a contract extension for Laconda Hicks AFTER she was no longer board president

But wait--with these allegations, and with the acrimony that she stirred up among faculty and staff, you would think that nobody would be itching to hire Hope-Jackson--and yet, you would be wrong.
Hope-Jackson, too, is a semi-finalist for a superintendent position. David Jesse at linked to this Chicago Tribune story that tells the tale. Yes, she is a semi-finalist in the Harvey, Illinois district, where she had been an assistant superintendent, and where she remained on the school board even while working as superintendent in Willow Run! From the Chicago Tribune story:
Four other candidates have dropped out, leaving Harvey Public School District 152 to choose between Harvey Mayor Eric Kellogg, the district's assistant superintendent, and Doris Hope-Jackson, a former District 152 assistant superintendent and school board member who most recently was in Michigan. . .
Without a search or an interview, the school board in November voted 4-2 to name Kellogg superintendent-designate and instructed Bridges [current superintendent] to train him to take over her job. Of the board members who voted for Kellogg, one is his sister, one is his cousin and two are on the city payroll, working under Kellogg, records show.
The board began a search after the Tribune started asking questions and requesting public documents in January...[Describes Hope-Jackson's career.]
In the last few months, Hope-Jackson was demoted to director of information and assessment and accused of giving perks to certain employees. For example, she allegedly allowed a friend who works as a student services administrator to receive extra pay for working weekends and after hours even though she is a salaried employee, according to a 46-page memo from Willow Run school board President Sheri Washington. Hope-Jackson allegedly allowed that employee to abuse paid sick leave and work shortened days, the memo said.
Hope-Jackson also is accused of belittling, bullying and disrespecting staff, parents and school board members...
In 2006 Hope-Jackson left the superintendent's job in Calumet Public School District 132 after she tried to fire the special education director for allegedly falsifying her resume. The school board then tried to get rid of Hope-Jackson.
In 2003, she sued Dolton School District 149 after she claimed she was put on paid administrative leave as superintendent for refusing to do political favors for some board members. But board members said they disciplined her for having a negative attitude and being brash with parents and staff.

In other words--Harvey, Illinois appears to be way more dysfunctional than Willow Run, and...
given Hope-Jackson's history of lawsuits, it seems clear that the WRCS board is very wise to proceed cautiously and...
Let's hope she's on her way out.

Washtenaw Intermediate School District
There has been a lot of talk about consolidation of services, and it appears that the WISD is the center of a lot of these discussions. But if you go to their web site, it is pretty bare bones. Sure, you can get student accounting numbers, but I couldn't find a list of board members, and I have no idea how you get on the WISD board. And based on news reports it seems likely they (both board and staff) have been discussing quite a lot of things--international baccalaureate program, transportation consolidation. . .

You might be wondering--what's with the Superintendent job-hopping? Yes, there is lots of movement in the superintendent arena. Remember that the Ypsilanti assistant superintendent was just offered a job in Niles, MI. All I can say is, it appears that a good superintendent can be hard to find.

Also--if you missed these two posts: Music and Autism Updates, take a look at them and add your comments.

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