Subject: Re: ship of fools – humanity
There is very little in today’s blog, regardless of source, with which I disagree. Thank you for once again correcting the misinformation regarding reimbursement or lack thereof for the District’s undercount of charter school enrollments. The Superintendent and CFO have tried to convince people, apparently they have convinced John Dick, that the infamous 200 students came from some mysterious locale beyond Monroe County, not from the District’s undercounting of the charter school enrollment numbers provided by the principals of those schools. Such is just another example of the misinformation purveyed by the District.
I thought that the editorial in today’s Citizen about the charter schools and their relationship to the District was well written and well argued. It would be a public service for you to reprint it for your readers who are not Citizen subscribers.
See you Monday night! Any chance of an encore from the buxom Aphrodite? Otherwise, it is going to be a l-o-n-g evening with little relief.
Fiscal Watchdog and Citizen Advocate
Monroe County School Board
Yesterday’s Editorial in The Key West Citizen:
District should support charters, not limit them
One of the most successful sectors of the Monroe County school system has proven to be its charter schools. The six charter schools in the county consistently score at the top of the district on standardized tests and receive top marks in the state’s school grading system.
Because of this high performance, many parents are using their right to choose where their child goes to school, thus there has been a constant flow of students out of the traditional public schools and into the charter public schools across the state and in Monroe County.
On a percentage basis, Monroe County has more students in charter schools than any other county in Florida.
Earlier this year, the district said it was caught off guard with the increased enrollment in charter schools, causing yet another budget calamity. The charter schools have questioned why there would be any surprise, as enrollment projections were provided, as they are each year, well before budgets are created.
We find it interesting that while the district’s enrollment projections turned out to be significantly off, the charters schools ended up pretty much right where they predicted. Seems like somebody made a mistake.
This exodus of students from the traditional schools within the district has caused alarm among some in the system, and prompted Superintendent Jesus Jara to propose imposing new fees while capping student enrollment, and therefore growth, of the charter schools. This cap also would effectively limit parents’ right to choose where their child is taught.
While we understand why Jara feels he needs to do this to stop the hemorrhaging of the district’s budget, we feel he is misguided and quite possibly overstepping his legal bounds. Each charter school is its own corporation and governed by its own separate board of directors. Additionally, each of the respective schools has an individual and unique contract, or “charter,” with the Monroe County School Board.
It is worth noting that each charter also has its own professional counsel to represent them in legal matters with the district.
As with any contract, any change or amendment must be agreed to by both parties — not, as has been proposed by Jara, by the Monroe County School Board alone. The charter amendment document distributed to each of the charter school principals last week had all six of their corporations listed, yet it only had one signature line — for the School Board.
While Superintendent Jara may have been able to break a union contract under the guise of a financial emergency, there does not appear to be a legal basis or any similar vehicle to break the charter school contracts under state law. To attempt to do so seems to invite litigation.
Since the first Florida charter school was established in 1996, the number of charters in the state has grown to 459 in 2011, with 154,000 students. This ranks Florida No. 3 in the nation for charter school enrollment.
Instead of blaming charter schools for drawing funds from the district, it should be embracing them and touting their growth and success. Maybe there is something to learn from the way the Monroe County charters operate.
– The Citizen
Hi, Larry. Thanks.
I did not see the editorial this morning and only became aware of it when Todd called me about it. I read it, called him back, said it was excellent and I would use it tomorrow. Perhaps best, we agreed, that I had overlooked it, so it could get more exposure tomorrow.
I told Todd that he and other charter school chairs and principals need to keep reminding Superintendent Jara and the School Board and the public that one of the state-mandated reasons for charter schools coming into existence in Florida was to provide competition to traditional schools, with the objective of giving incentive to traditional schools to do better. This is a legal reason Superintendent Jara and the School Board should encourage and assist charter schools, instead of blame them for doing the very thing they were created to do. Saying it another way, it is illegal for Superintendent Jara and the School Board to curtail charter schools for doing precisely what they were created by the Florida Legislature to do.
Speaking of the Superintendent, this today from an esteemed former School Board member might interest you. Please sit on it until I publish it tomorrow, I imagine:
Subject: FW: Superintendent Search Consultant
Date: Sat, 14 Apr 2012 16:02:29 +0000
I just sent this a few minutes ago. It will be interesting to see if it invokes any response
Sent: Saturday, April 14, 2012 12:02 PM
To: ‘John.Dick@keysschools.com’; ‘Andy.Griffiths@keysschools.com’; ‘Robin.Smith-Martin@KeysSchools.com’; ‘Duncan.Mathewson@keysschools.com’; ‘Ron.MartinSB@KeysSchools.com’
Subject: Superintendent Search Consultant
Mr. Chairman and School Board members:
I am writing to share with you my observations and concerns regarding the Superintendent search consultant, Wayne Blanton. As you know, our committee is governed by the Sunshine Law, therefore I have no idea if my fellow committee members feel as I do, however I feel so strongly about this issue that I was compelled to write and share my concerns.
I would like to congratulate you on your committee appointments. I believe it is a very impressive group from our community. Further many of us have served together in other community organizations so I believe there is a high mutual respect amongst all the committee members.
After you made your appointments to the search committee, Cheryl Allen contacted us and asked for our biographies. Approximately two weeks prior to our first meeting, Mrs. Allen wrote to inform us of the dates, times and video conference locations whereby we could attend the meetings. I never received any contact from Mr. Blanton, not even an agenda for the meeting.
Mr. Blanton opened the meeting by asking everyone to go around the room and introduce ourselves. Given that the committee is comprised of over 20 people, this took more the 30 minutes to complete. Why didn’t Mr. Blanton assimilate the biographies and distribute them in an introductory e-mail with the meeting agenda?
Further Mr. Blanton then went into a 20 minute lecture or diatribe which, I am told is exactly the same talk he gave to the School Board when he made his pitch to be hired. I believe that given today’s technological advances, Mr. Blanton should have sent us a video or YouTube link requesting we watch the introductory video as an orientation so we could be fully prepared when we met.
One of the most troubling aspects of his presentation was when he cautioned the committee about Sunshine law violations and then went onto instruct us on more than one occasion to under take an activity that would have been a direct violation of the Sunshine law.
Lastly, Mr. Blanton informed us that the committee was to rank all the resumes and come up with our top five candidates. Mr. Blanton was also going to review the resumes and come up with his top five candidates separate and apart from our group. What does Mr. Blanton serious know about the Monroe County School District and our needs? The School Board has not even been a member of the FASB for the last two years.
We all know there is a political element to the hiring of our next Superintendent. As elected officials you also know that political power and influence comes to those who can hand out money and jobs. I find it troubling that Mr. Blanton will be come with his “chosen” five candidates completely apart from the work of our committee.
One of your staff members told me Mr. Blanton’s first visit cost $1,800 and I can only assume this last visit cost the same therefore you have expended $3,600 to date of the $23,000 budgeted to engage Mr. Blanton’s services. Please seriously consider terminating Mr. Blanton’s services at this point, save the taxpayers $19,400. That $19,400 could be used in so many more productive ways.
I am fully confident that the search committee that you appointed, along with your work, can identify and successfully hire the next Superintendent of the Monroe County School District. I am sure that Mr. Blanton has served the FASB and the Florida education system well in his past 37 years however the Florida Keys is a special and unique place and I feel strongly it is those in the community who know best what type of person we need to lead our school system in this very important and serious time. Thank you in advance for considering my request.
Steven R Pribramsky
937 Fleming Street
Key West, FL 33040
(305) 294-1872 fax
Todd told me much the same thing Steve reported about the lead into the meeting, and how it then went. Todd was about as disturbed as Steve about Blanton.
Lots of candidates Monday night, might take an hour and a half, or longer, for them all to do their 2 minute swan songs into this year’s races . Master of ceremonies, Todd said he will enforce the 2 minute limitation with vigor. He might need to brandish a saber or a flint-lock pistol to be convincing.
Haven’t seen Aphrodite in maybe a year.
Also on Superintendent search, this from School Board Chairman John Dick:
Subject: RE: Superintendent Search Committee
Date: Sat, 14 Apr 2012 07:16:35 -0400
I was the one that brought up the idea of dropping the Florida School Board Association a couple of years ago, and we got out on a 3-2 vote. I also did not want to use them for the Superintendent Search, I felt we could do it alone. We did not take an official vote on that, but I told them if they did the vote would have been 4 to 1. I have never been a fan of Wayne Blanton or the Florida School Board Association. I spoke against it at the meeting, since no one else spoke against it I assumed everyone else was in favor of it which is why I said the vote if taken would have been 4 to 1 and no one challenged me on that statement.
Me, I think it doesn’t matter who is Superintendent. Might as well have Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck. This school district will not change. Steve thinks the entire district should go charter. Todd German, who is Chair of the charter high school board in Key West, feels much the same. That, or it will take a state take-over to turn this school district around.
I can’t wait listen to the School Board candidates at Hometown! PAC’s Call to Candidates tomorrow evening, at Salute Ristorante on Higgs Beach in Key West. Meet and greet starting 5:00 p.m., candidates in various races holding forth starting 5:30 p.m. I can’t wait to hear the School Board candidates’ solutions and promises.