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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

"Unlimited" Schools of Choice in CCS?!?! (submitted letter to the editor of Clarkston News 5/29/12)

Unlimited Schools of Choice” in Clarkston Community Schools?

Dear Editor,

It is with frustration and sadness that I advise that Dr. Rod Rock, with the help of the CCS School Board President, Cheryl McGinnis, has instituted “unlimited” Schools of Choice in CCS in the four current SoC programs in the district, including “Project Lead the Way”, which allows for the acceptance of anyone of the appropriate age who applies from outside of the district.  It was approved at the 5/21/12 CCS Board meeting. 

PLTW is a Schools of Choice "program" for 10th - 12th graders that requires the applicant write a minimum 2/3 of a page hand written essay of "why the student wishes to enter the program and describing how past experiences in school have prepared them for the program", signature from a parent or guardian, and that the student has passed 8th grade Language Arts and 8th grade Math (for a 10th to 12th grade program!).  It requires the students take one two trimester program class per year, allowing the students to fill the remaining 13 trimester classes per year with non-PLTW program classes.

Last year Dr. Rock insisted on including verbiage in the Resolution for PLTW SoC Program that “the superintendent shall have the discretion to accept students who have been suspended in the last two years, have a felony on their record, or have been expelled from another school”.  Several other parents, board members, and I sent emails and spoke during the board meeting where this was voted on in 2011.  We tried to talk the Board into deleting that verbiage in order to keep students out who had "histories of suspensions, felonies, or expulsions”, but Dr. Rock advised he wanted the right to accept those students and his four rubber stamp board members voted to retain the verbiage put in by Dr. Rock.  Therefore, the program allows the superintendent to accept students who have previous histories of suspensions, felonies, or expulsions”. 

There was not one communication from Dr. Rock this year asking the public how they felt about making the SoC PLTW Program “unlimited” and the only place one could have seen any reference to it was in the 5/21/12 Board packet that was posted to the district website on Friday afternoon, 5/18/12, before the Monday meeting. Dr. Rock was full of public communications when it came to try to get the $20 million bond passed.  He (or someone from the district) attended and spoke at many public meetings; had videos created (many created by students during class time) and posted them on YouTube, the district's website, and Channel 22 on Comcast; sent out multitudes of “eblasts”; put out multiple “Words from the Superintendent” in the Clarkston News; and snail mailed two of "The Link Newsletters" home (one 100% dedicated to the bond, the other about 50% dedicated to the bond), but there was nothing about "unlimited" Schools of Choice...

Per "District Policy 5113 and Board Bylaw 0131.1, the Board must review, determine, and publish their SoC Program Policy annually and changes to District Policies require the School Board to discuss any proposed changes in a Board meeting prior to the Board meeting in which it is voted on.  The 5/21/12 meeting had the Board voting on the change to make SoC "unlimited" AND to vote on it.  When advised by several Board members of the violation (not discussing it on a meeting before it was to be voted on), Cheryl McGinnis (with the power of the "rubber stamp" majority), overruled them, kept it as the scheduled vote, and Dr. Rock’s rubber stamp majority Board Members approved the change and the renewal.

As of 5/29/12, the district still has not posted the contentious 5/21/12 Board meeting on the district website, nor on Comcast channel 22, for the public to see how ugly and wrong the meeting was.  The 5/14/21 meeting is still being broadcasted on the website and Comcast channel 22.  The district is now only broadcasting the meeting three or four times a day instead of looping the video.  What possible reason could the district have for not posting the video of the meeting?    

Dr. Rock’s annual evaluation will be during a closed session on June 18th, 2012, with the final written evaluation presented at the June 25th meeting.  Please let Dr. Rock and the School Board know how you feel about unlimited Schools of Choice in the PLTW Program in Clarkston High School and how you feel about the Board violating their own Board Bylaw by voting on the SoC Policy change without a prior board meeting "discussion".  Let them know if you think it's disturbing that the district chose to not engage the public on the SoC change.  Their email IDs are:  rdrock@clarkston.k12.mi.us; cmcginnis@clarkston.k12.mi.us; hyers@clarkston.k12.mi.useganee@clarkston.k12.mi.us; bomierb@clarkston.k12.mi.us; pattersonj@clarkston.k12.mi.us; boatmans@clarkston.k12.mi.us; lieblangr@clarkston.k12.mi.us; .

Thank you.

Dawn Schaller

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Unlimited School of Choice in the 2012/13 school year in Clarkston High School?

Are you interested in the district having unlimited School of Choice in the 2012/2013 school year and beyond?

In regard to CSMTech, Advanced Studies, and the IB programs, the district could be attracting high performing students, but as Dr. Rock has noted, they have never even come close to the limits of incoming students.  However, the "Project Lead the Way" program allows basically anyone to become a CCS "School of Choice" student in the high school and that is a dangerous thing to allow in Clarkston High School.  

Apparently Dr. Rod Rock wants unlimited School of Choice in CHS with the programs they have currently and it is scheduled to be voted on during the 5/21/12 Board meeting...

In violation of District policies, Dr. Rock has put this forward as an "Action" item on the 5/21/12 Board Meeting to make the change to the current School of Choice Programs to make them all "unlimited".  See the Board packet information here (pages 31 to 33 of 204).

Administration has an obligation to get annual approval from the School Board to continue to offer the School of Choice programs.  The violation is that he is proposing a change to the current plan and any change must be put forward as a "Discussion" item (to be discussed and not voted on) at one meeting, and then, after discussion has taken place, it can be placed on the agenda of a following meeting as an "Action" item (to be voted on).  Here is the information from the 5/21/12 Board Packet as of noon on 5/19/12 on item 5.1. 

"Attachment # 5.1
DATE OF BOARD MEETING: May 21, 2012
ITEM: Resolutions for School of Choice Programs
AGENDA LOCATION (please check one)
Check One:
     Consent (Expenditures, Donations, Field Trips – Items not needing board discussion)
     Presentation (Student or Staff Presentations, Recognitions)
X  Action (Items requiring the board to vote or take action, including resolutions)
     Report (Items requiring background information, updates to the board)
     Discussion (Items where board interaction/discussion is needed)
     Information (Items of interest to the board such as meeting dates or other general information items)
"ADMINISTRATOR/BOARD MEMBER SUBMITTING ITEM: Rod Rock

BACKGROUND INFORMATION:
It is necessary for the district to resolve to authorize the Superintendent or his designee to accept applications for enrollment by nonresident applicants for the purposes of school of choice for the Clarkston Math, Science and Technology Academy in grades 9-12, the Advanced Studies Program in grades 8-12, the International Baccaluareate Diploma Programme in grades 10-12, and the Project Lead the Way Career Pathway in grades 10-12. In the past, enrollment for some of these school of choice programs was limited. The limits established have never been met. We are recommending that the CSMTech, Advanced Studies, IB and Project Lead the Way programs be "unlimited" for the purposes of better enabling the district to seek applications in an ongoing manner."
Strangely enough, Dr. Rock's evaluation is item 7.2 on the 5/21/12 board meeting and he is showing his disregard for policy by violating district policy.   ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!

Please tell the board and Dr. Rock what your opinions are of "unlimited" open enrollment in the School of Choice programs in the high school and tell him you don't care for his bypassing policy by trying to squeak this by the public and the Board by trying to make it seem like it is just a reconfirmation of the programs...  It is NOT!

How would YOU evaluate Dr. Rock for the last year?

Anyone can provide input for the performance of Dr. Rod Rock over the last year.  I know that many employees and parents have their opinions that they may not want to risk putting forward for fear of retribution on their jobs and retribution on their children with opportunities in the schools.

Time is of the essence! Dr. Rod Rock's Superintendent evaluation is currently scheduled for 6/25/12.  

If you have an opinion you would like to put forward regarding Dr. Rock's performance, you can send it to my email and I will provide a conglomeration of whatever I receive to the entire board as anonymous input from the public. 
 
Please pass this on to anyone else that would like to air their opinions on Dr/ Rock's performance. Send it to cleanupclarkstonschools at gmail dot com (with the at and dot replaced with @ and .). 

Thanks.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Violations of CCS Bylaws and Policies and other inappropriate CCS actions - original email and follow up email string with Dr. Rock and Mrs. McGinnis after no response to my email for 12 days.

Violations of CCS Bylaws and Policies and other inappropriate CCS actions - original email and follow up email string with Dr. Rock and Mrs. McGinnis after no response to my email for 12 days.

From: Dawn Schaller
To: Cheryl McGinnis (CCS BoE President),
Cc: Steve Hyer (CCS BoE Treasurer), Elizabeth Egan (CCS BoE VP), Barry Bomier (CCS BoE Secretary), Joan Patterson (CCS BoE Trustee), Susan Boatman (CCS BoE Trustee), Rosalie Lieblang (CCS BoE Trustee), Phil Custodio (Clarkston News), Wendi Reardon (Clarkston News), Monica Drake (Oakland Press), Joette Kunse (Oakland Press), Sean Redenz (Clarkston Public Access Center), Dr. Rod Rock (CCS Superintendent),
Sent: Friday, May 18, 2012 10:58:41 PM
Subject: Re: The 4/23/12 CCS School Board Meeting, the CCS Technology Initiative, and Violations of CCS Bylaws and Policies

Mrs. McGinnis,

The district website still shows your work address as your proper email address.  That was all I had to work with.  You may want to get that updated if it is wrong.

I still never received so much as an acknowledgement from Dr. Rock.

In regard to the other issues I brought up and your responses, my concerns are the following:  
  • I had advised that the last portion of the 4/23/12 board meeting is still not loaded to the district USTREAM account and it is STILL not loaded.  You did not address this in your response.  Please ensure that it gets loaded ASAP.  If the district is going to load the Board Meeting videos to the district website, it owes it to the public to provide all of the Board Meeting video content.
  • The 4/23/12 Board Package was finally reloaded today.  Thank you for whatever effort you or Dr. Rock had in getting that done, but it was 13 days late in getting completed.
  • You did not address the fact that you and Dr. Rock have the responsibility to develop the Board Agendas and that you or Dr. Rock, or both have consistently:
    • put items on the Board Agendas as "Action" items when, by District Policy or Board Bylaw, they must be put on an Agenda as a "Discussion" item on a Board Meeting first, before putting it on a later Board Meeting as an "Action" item,  
    • allowed items to be in the Board Packet without any backup documentation until the meeting (a "surprise" to both the Board and the public) - also unacceptable,
    • adding documentation to the Board Packets loaded to the district website in the hours before a Board Meeting when that data was provided to the Board members several days in advance of the meeting (acknowledged to me previously) - apparent intent to deceive the public,
    • and the district not ever updating documentation to some of the Board Packets with documentation that was provided in a meeting after being requested to be added to the Board Packet.      
  • You did not address the obviously incorrect and contradictory information the district was publishing regarding the $20 million Bond proposal.  This is totally unacceptable.
  • The Board Bylaws and District Policies I have cited are very clear and concise.  There should be absolutely no discrepancy in how those are interpreted by the School Board or Dr. Rock for that matter.
    • They reflect that Dr. Rock is ignoring District Policies and Board Bylaws and YOU are allowing it to happen. 
    • I also believe that you are deliberately ignoring your fellow Board Member's ability to do their jobs as Board Members by preventing them from obtaining documentation from Administration in order to do their jobs.  This is violating Board Authority - central to the purpose of any Board of Education.
    • I believe that the violations of Board Powers are serious.  You are allowing Dr. Rock to get away with violating the Board Powers regarding "contracting with outside parties for noninstructional support services" and "decisions regarding the use of experimental or pilot programs including staffing, use of technology, provision of the technology, and the impact on individual staff members or a bargaining unit" - also central to the purpose of any Board of Education.
    • You are not allowing the public to participate in the Board Meetings as Board Bylaws mandate.  You have specifically denied me and other members of the public the right to speak more than once during the Public Portions of Board Meetings, but have allowed pro-Bond speakers to speak more than once, specifically during the 4/23/12 Board Meeting.  If this trend continues, I will contact the ACLU and seek counsel to address the discrimination I have suffered for being denied my right to be heard in the Public Portion of past and any possible future Board Meetings.       
    • In my opinion, you are not qualified to be the Board President if you are impeding Board Authority and Powers, passing on those Authorities and Powers to the Superintendent, denying the public their due public participation rights in Board meetings, allowing the Board Agendas to be improperly set up, allowing the Board Packets to be incomplete, and including "surprises" to the Board and the public in the Board Packets. 
I also do not appreciate your trying to pass off those major violations you have allowed to occur and continue as just being "a varied belief in how they apply to our roles and responsibilities".  I believe that they are YOUR failures as Board President because YOU, AND YOU ALONE, HAVE ALLOWED IT TO HAPPEN AND CONTINUE.

Remember, as a CCS School Board Member, you are a public servant.  Please step up and do your job properly, step down from the School Board President position and allow it to be done by someone who has the ability to actually do the job properly, or just resign from the School Board.


From: Cheryl McGinnis (CCS BoE President),
To: Dawn Schaller
Sent: Friday, May 18, 2012 8:33:32 AM
Subject: Fwd: FW: The 4/23/12 CCS School Board Meeting, the CCS Technology Initiative, and Violations of CCS Bylaws and Policies

Thank you for contacting the Board of Education.  We appreciate your input and your feedback. 
Ms. Schaller it would be extremely helpful if you would direct your school board communication to the Board President through my school district email at cmcginnis@clarkston.k12.mi.us.  I do receive a large amount of spam and junk mail at work and this is automatically filtered out and honestly I don’t even think to review what may be in there.
As the Board President, I believe all board members are aware of the district’s bylaws, policies, and Board Operating Procedures in regards to board conduct, however have a varied belief in how they apply to our role and responsibilities.  I believe as a board we also desire to achieve becoming a more effective board.  This is clearly stated and outlined in our Board of Education Goals 2011-12.  Unanimous consent on approval of these board goals at the November 14, 2011 board meeting should clearly indicate to our public that we as a board recognize that we are not there yet.  As Chair I will continue to work on this path towards becoming an effective board.

As always, this Board, values the input of our citizens.  The Board’s number one objective is our students and any waver from this objective naturally takes away from this mission.  To this endeavor, I know that this board is firmly committed to our students.

Thank you again for contacting your Board of Education.
Cheryl McGinnis, Board President
---------- Forwarded message ----------



 From: Dawn Schaller
To: Dr. Rod Rock (CCS Superintendent), Cheryl McGinnis (CCS BoE President),
Cc: Steve Hyer (CCS BoE Treasurer), Elizabeth Egan(CCS BoE VP), Barry Bomier (CCS BoE Secretary), Joan Patterson (CCS BoE Trustee), Susan Boatman (CCS BoE Trustee), Rosalie Lieblang (CCS BoE Trustee), Phil Custodio (Clarkston News), Wendi Reardon (Clarkston News), Monica Drake (Oakland Press), Joette Kunse (Oakland Press), Sean Redenz (Clarkston Public Access Center)
Sent: Thursday, May 17, 2012 10:12:00 PM
Subject: Re: The 4/23/12 CCS School Board Meeting, the CCS Technology Initiative, and Violations of CCS Bylaws and Policies

Dr. Rock and Mrs. McGinnis,

Neither of you have responded to any of my allegations.  Will you act on any of it?

The last portion of the 4/23/12 board meeting is still not loaded to the district USTREAM account.  Please load it.

The 4/23/12 board package is still not loaded to the district website.  It still shows "404 File not found".  Please load it.

This email also did not even merit a "Thank you for your input."  Are you pretending you did not even receive it?

Thanks.

Dawn Schaller 

From: Dawn Schaller
To: Dr. Rod Rock (CCS Superintendent), Cheryl McGinnis (CCS BoE President),
Cc: Steve Hyer (CCS BoE Treasurer), Elizabeth Egan(CCS BoE VP), Barry Bomier (CCS BoE Secretary), Joan Patterson (CCS BoE Trustee), Susan Boatman (CCS BoE Trustee), Rosalie Lieblang (CCS BoE Trustee), Phil Custodio (Clarkston News), Wendi Reardon (Clarkston News), Monica Drake (Oakland Press), Joette Kunse (Oakland Press), Sean Redenz (Clarkston Public Access Center)
Sent: Saturday, May 5, 2012 5:47:24 PM
Subject: The 4/23/12 CCS School Board Meeting, the CCS Technology Initiative, and Violations of CCS Bylaws and Policies

Dr. Rock and Mrs. McGinnis,

I have several things to say about the 4/23/12 Clarkston Community Schools Board meeting and a more few comments in regard to the CCS Technology Initiative, and Violations of CCS Bylaws and Policies. 

Number one: As the Clarkston Community School District Superintendent and School Board President, you both had the responsibility to set the agenda for the 4/23/12 CCS school board meeting.  I believe that you improperly scheduled the "Bond Wrap Up" item as a "Presentation" item although there was nothing actually presented and it was just discussed.  It was, therefore, not a "Presentation" item, but was rather a "Discussion" item.  As the first "Presentation" item, it was the first activity in the board meeting so it would be the first thing people would see when watching the board meeting on USTREAM or on Channel 22 on Comcast.  However, as a "Discussion" item, it would have been towards the end of the meeting which may have inconvenienced the "Say yes to the bond" people that showed up to speak at the board meeting because they would have to wait for completion of the legitimate "Presentation", "Action" and "Report" items on the agenda before the "Discussion" items would occur (toward the end of the meeting).  I see this as an improper manipulation of the Board agenda to promote the May 8th CCS Bond proposal election. 

Number two: I know that neither of you were pleased by my comments during the "Citizen Comments" section of the 4/23/12 board meeting.  However, I was still expecting to see the entire meeting on the district's USTREAM account linked to the district's website.  Oh, how naive I was...  The district has posted only one video from the 4/23/12 meeting...  The meeting went over three hours, which is the maximum video length allowed on the district's USTREAM account.  Previous meetings have gone over three hours and the district has loaded two videos to present the entirety of the meetings.  Therefore, the 4/23/12 meeting is incomplete.  We have been over this before in the past regarding other long board meetings...   I believe that was done deliberately in order to prevent the public from hearing my comments at the end of the meeting.  I had just gotten to the podium when the first (and only) video ended at the three hour point, so my comments will never be heard by anyone except the people who view the meeting on Comcast before the next Board meeting occurs and the district replaces it with the newest Board meeting.  Therefore, you did not present a true video representation of the board meeting on the district's USTREAM account.  For the sake of CCS District transparency, you have a responsibility to post the the second video.  You cannot tell me you don't have it because the entire meeting is being broadcasted on Comcast.  See the attachment for my complete prepared comments.

Number three: Mrs. McGinnis, you have have been inconsistent and violating policy in enforcement of the public comment section of the board meetings. 

In the past, the President of the Board (both you, this year and Mr. Hyer, previously) has stringently enforced the supposed rule that one must officially sign up to speak under a certain topic at or before the time section 3.1.1 occurs in the meeting, or, if they arrive after that portion of the meeting, they can only speak at the end of the meeting during Item 8, "Citizen Comments" and each speaker has been allowed the right to speak once, and only once during any given meeting.  In the past, I have been denied the right to speak during a specific portion of a meeting because I arrived after item 3.1.1 had occurred during that meeting.  I have been allowed to discuss more than on topic during meetings, but I have only been given the right to speak for a total of two minutes one time under one of the items to discuss the multiple topics during the meeting.  However, both of these actions (by you and Mr. Hyer) were violations of CCS Board Bylaw 0167.3, "Public Participation at Board Meetings", which states,
"The presiding officer shall be guided by the following rules:
c.  Attendees must register their intention to participate in the public portion of the meeting upon their arrival at the meeting.
E.  Each statement made by a participant shall be limited to two (2) minutes duration.F.  No participant may speak more than once on the same topic unless all others who wish to speak on that topic have been heard.

This means that as long as the citizen registers his/her intention to speak "upon their arrival to the meeting", they have the right to speak during the meeting (not related to their having to be there before item 3.1.1.), and not limiting them to speaking during Item 8, "Citizen Comments".  This also means that a citizen may speak on any (or all) topics, may speak for up to two minutes on any given topic, and may speak again for another two minutes after all other speakers have spoken on a given topic. 

You have stringently enforced the invalid public participation "rules" during meetings.  However, at the 4/23/12 Board meeting, Mrs. McGinnis, you invited and allowed Andrea Schroeder and Joan Badalucco to speak at item 4.1, "Bond Wrap Up" although they had not signed up to speak during that item by item 3.1.1.  Are the "rules" enforced differently based on whether or not you know those people will be supporting your opinions on a subject, such as the Bond Election, for which all three of you are on the "Vote Yes For Kids" committee?  The committee you are all members of has the intention of getting the CCS $20 million bond approved and both Mrs. Schroeder and Mrs. Badalucco spoke at that meeting regarding why voters should vote yes on the bond election.  Then, at the end of the meeting, you allowed Andrea Schroeder to speak a second time.  You violated your own false rules.  Enforcement should be consistent, but you should be enforcing the "real" bylaws.   

Number four: 
Dr. Rock and Mrs. McGinnis, I have been continually confused and disturbed by what I view as your continued refusal to accept that if a board member requests some piece of data from the district to understand some issue of school finance, curriculum, or anything else (unrelated to personnel issues), that you believe that there is no need to provide it to that Board member unless a vote of the Board obtains a quorum of four members of the Board to approve it.  I believe that this is a violation of another bylaw, 0143, Membership Authority.  This goes to the heart of the board's authority!  This subject came up again at the 4/23/12 Board meeting as it has on just about every Board meeting for several months.

"0140 - MEMBERSHIP

0143 Authority

Individual members of the Board do not possess the powers that reside in the Board of Education, but no member of the Board shall be denied documents or information to which s/he is legally entitled and which are required in the performance of his/her duties as a Board member. M.C.L.A. 380.1201

How do you justify the repeated refusal to provide information that Mrs. Lieblang has requested during board meetings and via email (as she has stated several times during meetings).  You have used the the false premise of "it must be voted upon by the board and if the vote fails to be approved (as happens when Dr. Rocks' quorum voting block of McGinnis/Egan/Hyer/Bomier turn it down), that the district does not have to provide it to the board member."  The people in attendance at the meetings are usually incredulous and look at each other in the audience for a confirmation that they actually just saw the miscarriage of justice they just had just witnessed.  I believe that this is a clear violation of the Board Bylaw that must stop.    

Number five:  I believe that you are both ignoring certain Board Powers.  Dr. Rock, you are violating Board Powers and Mrs. McGinnis, you are allowing Dr. Rock to take over  powers vested in the Board.  Here is the Board Bylaw on Board Authority, Powers, and Purpose with key portions included:    
0120 - AUTHORITY, POWERS, AND PURPOSE 

0122 Board Powers

The Board has authority, based on statute, to make decisions regarding the following subjects without resort to prior bargaining:

F.  contracting with outside parties for noninstructional support services including the procedures for obtaining a contract, the identity of the outside party, and the impact on individual staff members or a bargaining unit 


H.  decisions regarding the use of experimental or pilot programs including staffing, use of technology, provision of the technology, and the impact on individual staff members or a bargaining unit

Regarding policy/bylaw "0122 F", Dr. Rock, you contracted with EduStaff to take over the employment of aides and non-teaching coaches during the summer of 2011.  Based on this bylaw, I do not believe that you had the right to contract with an outside party (EduStaff) without the input and approval of the School Board.  This contract was announced to the CCS School Board as a "Report" item in the 8/22/11 school board meeting, but it never came to them for approval in an open meeting.  It was Item 6.2 on the agenda on 8/22/11.  It was on page 172 of 176 from this board packet (dated 8/22/11).  See below for the discussion as noted in the Consent Agenda reported on pages 21 and 22 of 105 of the 9/12/11 board meeting here (reported as Item 6.3 on the Consent Agenda):

"EduStaff Arrangement for Third Party Contracting: Dr. Rock noted that the budget had been reduced by over $3million through a number of reductions, including a decrease in instructional support staff. There was concern regarding support to students. Mrs. Banach has worked within the established budget parameters to increase aide hours while continuing to save dollars. She explained third party contracting, which is similar to ADP or another form of payroll. They will provide payment for aides and non-teaching coaches, but they will continue to be employed by the district. Mrs. Banach explained how this agreement came about, how it will work with these employees, the benefits to them, why EDUStaff was chosen and next steps. Dr. Rock added that legal counsel is reviewing the agreement to ensure practices are consistent with the district. Mrs. Lieblang clarified personnel that
will be included – building and instructional aides and non-teaching coaches – approximately 30 staff members.  She also asked about attracting these staff members in the future. We will continue to post for these positions; they will simply be paid by EDUStaff. Mrs. Patterson asked about salaries; these will still be determined by the district.  Mr. Bomier asked about background checks on these staff members. EDUSTaff follows all the same state rules and procedures. These employees have already been fingerprinted, but any new employees will have the same requirements. Mrs. Patterson also asked about following district policy and guidelines. The district will still recommend these staff members to EDUSTaff for district positions, so we are in control of the hiring process. Mrs. Boatman asked about the value of the agreement and if it will equal over $20,000. Mrs. Banach noted this is a contracted service and is within the original budget for these positions. Mrs. McGinnis thanked everyone involved in working on this agreement, and she noted that legal counsel is working to ensure the agreement is in accordance with district policy and practice."     

See the blue, bolded, and underlined portions of the consent agenda below with my comments in red:

  • She explained third party contracting, which is similar to ADP or another form of payroll. They will provide payment for aides and non-teaching coaches, but they will continue to be employed by the district. This comment by Anita Banach, the HR Director, is not correct.  Third party employment is third party employment.  Per the EDUStaff, LLC website's FAQs, it says, "EDUStaff is your employer and is responsible for issuing your paycheck".
  • We will continue to post for these positions; they will simply be paid by EDUStaff.  The district may post the positions, but employees would be EDUStaff employees, not CCS employees (see above).
  • Mrs. Patterson also asked about following district policy and guidelines.   From what I recall from this meeting, Mrs. Patterson was referring to the fact that you, Dr. Rock, were not following district policies in regard to getting board approval for this contract.  There is no comment mentioned in the minutes form the 8/22/11 Board meeting.  As happens frequently, it was either ignored with a "thank you for your input" comment from you, or the comments were not included in the consent agenda synopsis.   
  • Mrs. Boatman asked about the value of the agreement and if it will equal over $20,000.   From CCS Policy 6320 - PURCHASING, it says that "Purchases in a single transaction that are in excess of the dollar amount permitted by State statute shall require competitive bids and, whenever possible, have at least three (3) such bids for substantiation of purchase and shall require approval of the Board prior to purchase."   Although the link to the State statute on the district's Neola link site is broken, I found at the State of Michigan website, a trigger point of $20,959.00 that mandates competitive bids and Board approval, but that does apply here because it is not a contract for "supplies, materials, or equipment"  However, Dr. Rock, I believe that you have made many purchases without following policy "6320 Purchasing" when you did not put applicable purchases through the competitive bid and board approval process.  
  • Mrs. Banach noted this is a contracted service and is within the original budget for these positions.   It does not matter that the money for the contract is within the original budget for those positions.  It is a contract for "noninstructionsl support services" and as such, is covered under bylaw "0120 - AUTHORITY, POWERS, AND PURPOSE, 0122 Board Powers"  It says, "The Board has authority, based on statute, to make decisions regarding the following subjects without resort to prior bargaining:  F. contracting with outside parties for noninstructional support services including the procedures for obtaining a contract, the identity of the outside party, and the impact of individual stall members or a bargaining unit."  Therefore, I believe that it was another violation of Board bylaws and Mrs. McGinnis, as president of the School Board, YOU allowed this to happen.
  • Mrs. McGinnis thanked everyone involved in working on this agreement, and she noted that legal counsel is working to ensure the agreement is in accordance with district policy and practice.   Mrs. McGinnis should have made sure that this contract followed Board Bylaw 0122 Board Powers rather than allowing the district to make this agreement  without board input and approval.
Regarding policy/bylaw 0122 H, Dr. Rock, I believe that you violated this Board Bylaw by not getting approval from the Board for the experimental technology pilot programs that you implemented during the current school year.  The Bylaw stated, "The Board has authority, based on statute, to make decisions regarding the following subjects without resort to prior bargaining: H.  decisions regarding the use of experimental or pilot programs including staffing, use of technology, provision of the technology, and the impact on individual staff members or a bargaining unit".  Mrs. McGinnis, I believe that you failed as the President of the School Board in not stopping Dr. Rock, the Board's employee, from going ahead with the experimental pilot programs without Board input and approval. 

Number Six:
  Dr. Rock, you made claims on the "School Link" newsletter dated "Spring 2012" (available in the district's website here: http://www.clarkston.k12.mi.us/education/page/download.php?fileinfo=U2Nob29sX0xpbmtfQXByaWxfSXNzdWUuUERGOjo6L3d3dy9zY2hvb2xzL3NjL3JlbW90ZS9pbWFnZXMvZG9jbWdyL0FMTGZpbGU1MzI0Ni5wZGY= ).  I believe that the school district inputted some information that is new, newly changed (again), inaccurate, or contradictory to previous information the district supplied in the "School Link" under the article, "Important Information on the May 8 Bond Issue", including the following (black italicized comments are the comments from the article, my comments are in red and bolded):
  1. "Students in preschool through grade five will have access to devices during the school day."  (According to the District’s “1:Global Initiative” document also referenced in the CCS School Link Newsletter, the students in preschool to grade 2 will have “classroom technology”, but nothing has been noted from the bond for their use.  The students in grades 3 – 5 will have access to the wireless devices off mobile carts with a one for every two students coverage and the devices will not go home with the students to work on homework or to bring notices home to the parents (so much for Dr. Rock's supposed cost savings from going paperless in the schools.))
  2. "Families of students in grades 6 -12 will have four options regarding the care of these devices:
    • "Purchase insurance on the devices at an annual cost of $30 to $50.00."  (Concerns - There are no details.  What insurance companies are offering insurance policies at what prices and what is the coverage?  I don't believe it is accurate as the district previously quoted $50.00 - 54.00/year.  Why is CCS changing the plans yet again, less than two weeks before the bond vote?)
    • "Assume liability for lost or unrepairable devices."  (This is obviously a very expensive option and would be a major financial burden on families who might not even be able to afford to buy insurance for the devices.)
    • "Opt not to take the devices home."  (Brand new option as of 4/28/12 and never presented to the Board of Education. My questions – Really?  How would the students do homework if their curriculum is wireless device based and they cannot take the devices home?  Why is CCS changing the plans yet again, less than two weeks before the bond vote?)
    • "Opt to purchase a similar device through the district's vendor."  (This was never presented to the school board.  Why is CCS changing the plans yet again, less than two weeks before the bond vote?  What is the price?  There is no information here.)  
  3. "The bond, along with a district contribution of $98,000 per year (which is included in the budget), includes two replacement cycles of the mobile learning devices."  (I don't believe that the actual district contribution to the 1:Global Initiative is $98,000.00 per year as stated in the "School Link".  It appears to be $571,364.00 in FY13, $553,056.00 in FY14, $1,302,098.00 in FY15, and $786,882.00 in FY16, for a total of $3,213,400.00 over the first four years and an average of $803,350.00 for the first four years.  I have attached the Excel document where I detailed the expenses as they were in the published CCS "1:Global Initiative" document.  See below):    
District contributions to support the 1:Global Technology from the 1:Global Initiative available here: https://sites.google.com/a/clarkston.k12.mi.us/1-to-global-initiative-report/device-examination/total-cost-of-ownership  which is part of the document referenced by Dr. Rock on page 1 of the "School Link" references much more than the $98,000 per year Dr. Rock referenced.                                                                      

Expense item from 1:Global Report FY 13 FY14 FY15 FY 16 Total FY13 - FY16Avg FY13 - FY16
Instructional Support Cost $65,000.00 $68,000.00 $248,500.00 $124,250.00 $505,750.00$126,437.50
Instructional Professional Development cost $171,612.00 $149,385.00 $256,089.00 $181,396.00 $758,482.00 $189,620.50
Personnel / Professional Development Cost $236,612.00 $247,385.00 $554,589.00 $293,816.00 $1,332,402.00 $333,100.50
Tech Support Staffing $17,140.00 $25,286.00 $112,420.00 $112,420.00 $267,266.00 $66,816.50
General Fund Contributions for iPad covers etc. $81,000.00 $63,000.00 $130,500.00 unstated $274,500.00 $68,625.00
Network Infrastructure (3 year Internet Filter License)  $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $75,000.00 $75,000.00 $18,750.00
TOTAL COMING FROM GENERAL FUND (rather than from bond) $571,364.00 $553,056.00 $1,302,098.00 $786,882.00 $3,213,400.00 $803,350.00
I attached an Excel spreadsheet with the rest of the expenses for the technology roll-out that
will be coming from the district's general fund for the remainder of the bond period per the
data provided in the 1:Global Technology web link.  See the attached file, "CCS District
Non-Bond Expenses from 1 to Global Initiative.xls". for those details that were gleaned from
the CCS "1:Global Technology" web link. 

The School district announced the lay offs of 14 teachers at the 4/23/12 school board meeting,
supposedly saving the district an amount around a meeting-stated $500,000.00.  There was
no explanation for the reason for the layoffs.  It is a curious amount given the general fund cost
of $571,364.00 in fiscal year 13 for the technology roll-out...   I would give you the link to the
4/23/12 board packet to view, but the data is missing from the district website.  See here:
 http://www.clarkston.k12.mi.us/education/components/scrapbook/default.php?sectiondetailid=12100&
  Click on the 4/23/12 link for the Board Packet and it goes to "404 File not found"...  This has
been my recurring experience with the district - disappearing documents, changed documents,
changes put in at the last minute, missing documentation from board packages, refusal to
provide certain FOIAed documents, refusal to provide information on questionable actions by
the district, you name it.







In Conclusion: The Clarkston Community School District is a public institution owned by and funded by taxpayers in this district and across the state.  Dr. Rock and Mrs. McGinnis, you are not the owners of the school district.  It is not your personal company with which you can do anything you want.  It is not a dictatorship.  Neither of you have the right to ignore District Policies or Board Bylaws.  I believe this is clear proof of the district altering the messages that the public is being allowed to see and hear and that the district cannot be trusted to provide the public access regarding school issues.  I am copying the contact for the Clarkston Public Access Center, Sean Rendenz, in order for the CPAC to consider taking back the school public access channel (channel 22).  I believe that they could do a far superior job of videotaping the school board meetings (as the district's videotaping skills lack), they would provide a more balanced interpretation of "education", and it would allow input to the channel from the private schools within the Clarkston Comcast viewing audience also as CCS is not the only "education" entity in our area.    

Please put the last portion of the 4/23/12 board meeting on the district's USTREAM account, including the portion where I spoke.  I would like you to address the other items I brought up, but I believe I would be "lucky" to receive anything beyond a "Thank you for your input" message from both of you.  I hope that others on cc of this note will use it to investigate and publicize the issues I brought up, and to use it in Dr. Rock's evaluation in a couple of weeks.

Thank you.

Dawn Schaller
http://acrosstheboard-clarkston.blogspot.com/

Thursday, May 17, 2012

"All about the kids?" Not hardly! Read on...

I feel that contrary to what the district personnel, certain members of the board, and some high level PTA officers say publicly about the district claiming to be "all about the kids", in reality, the district is almost entirely "about the continuation of the organization, career advancement and personal financial objectives of the administrators, teachers, and teacher's union, and the political aspirations of certain members of the board".

I believe that the majority of the CCS staff cares about the students and wants the best for them, but in my opinion, the district as an organization considers the students only as a conduit to a continuation of the organization as a whole via the revenue their presence brings.  Beyond that, the organization considers the students via their performances that the district can claim as bragging rights to be the result of the education the district provided to the students: their MEAP scores, awards, sports team records, college scholarship money earned by the students, etc.  

I also believe that the CCS organization does not care about the staff unless they are tenured certified teachers or administrators.  The secretaries, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, para pros, custodians, and other, less numerous and less highly paid groups of workers are considered expendable by the district.


This is wrong!

Friday, May 11, 2012

May 8, 2012 CCS bond rejected by wide margin

The 5/8/12 CCS $20 million bond was rejected by the voters by a 2 to 1 margin.

         Final tally:  
                          YES    2,945   33.84%
                          NO     5,759   66.16%
                                     8,704

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Propaganda from CCS at the last minute before the bond election

Here is the propaganda sent out from the Clarkston Community School district through the ClarkstonCalendar.org website.  That website is a tool to communicate a "calendar of community events".  Do you believe that this qualifies?  I don't.  

They timed it for the night before the $20 million bond election...  How convenient. 

It was followed up with a "robo call" from Dr. Rock urging parents of students to vote on May 8th.  He used the district's emergency call system (snow day notices).  I believe that was an inappropriate use of the emergency call system - and possibly a violation of the Campaign Finance Act... 

I am not the writer of any email being forwarded to anyone in the district...  However, I have an opinion on what the district said in this document.

Here is the district's email as it went out and my comments are in bold and red

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *  
From: info@clarkstoncalendar.org
To: me
Sent: Monday, May 7, 2012 3:08:08 PM
Subject: CCS : Important Information Regarding May 8th Bond

CCS-Clarkston Community Schools

I received a forwarded message containing misinformation regarding tomorrow's election. Listed below are the facts.  Please make an informed decision on May 8th and do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or concerns.
Here are some important facts:
1. With the passage of the May 8th bond proposal, our millage rate will start off at 1 mill and it is projected to only remain at 1 mill for 4 years and then it starts to DECREASE for an average of .79 mills over the 17 years of the bond. (The official ballot language states .82 for the life of the bond, but information from the county assessor's office suggests it will be even better.)  From years 5 through 17, the m illage rate decreases each year and still generates enough to cover the three bond series we are proposing ($10M, $5M, and $5M). FACT: By law, if the tax proceeds from the non-state qualified bond were to fall short of the payment that must be made, the district would have to either make up the difference out of the general fund or bill taxpayers the difference by increasing the bond millage.  That would be decided by the board in place at that time.  

2.
Oakland County and the district's bond counsel make expert projections on taxable values. These are the same projections used by every district and municipality in Oakland County.  FACT: The district's 2003 bond used all of the same supposedly "expert projections on taxable values" that has resulted in the district having to borrow millions from the state's School Bond Loan Fund and extending the term of the bond for years...  

3. The
Ann Arbor Public Schools will put a three-series, non-state qualified, $45 million technology bond before voters on May 8 (http://www.a2schools.org/aaps/tech_bond). They've received similar counsel that this is a safe, sound, and sustainable way to address technology in their schools. FACT: The May 8th Ann Arbor bond has the same lack of public support as the Clarkston bond and it DID NOT include iPads (or "1:Global" wireless devices) for all of the students.
4. Excellent teachers raise test scores, not computers. Anyone who promises that a computer program, textbook, or gimmick will raise test scores is ill informed.  Those willing to look at the research know that only excellent t eachers, who know how to effectively use tools and engage students, raise test scores. However, for those who wish to see evidence from other school districts that technology does positively affect test scores, the district's technology report cites several examples of school districts around the country that have seen an increase in student test scores as they've increased students' access to technology.  There is much more empirical evidence of technology infusions lowering test scores or not making any difference in test scores, than there is of increasing test scores.  

5. The district cannot arbitrarily raise tax rates. Official ballot language indicates the tax rate needed over the life of the bond.  FACT: By law, if the tax proceeds from the non-state qualified bond were to fall short of the payment that must be made, the district would have to either make up the difference out of the general fund or bill taxpayers the difference by increasing the bond millage.  That would be decided by the board in place at that time.
   
6. When a district does a state qualified bond, as we have done in the past, the state requires us to participate in the School Bond Loan Fund (SBLF).  The SBLF allows districts to keep the millage rate at an even level throughout the life of the bond payoff.  In our current case, this is 7 mills.  FACT:  By law, if the tax proceeds from a state qualified bond were to fall short of the payment that must be made, the district would have to borrow against the SBLF or make up the difference out of the general fund.  The district has chosen to borrow against the SBLF.  Because of that, the taxpayers of the CCS district will be billed the 7 mills for several additional years from when the bond was supposed to have been paid off to pay off the interest.  
 
Because we are not doing a state qualified bond this time around (due to the fact that a state qualified bond would require us to levy 5 mills instead of the proposed 1 mill for the same amount of bond revenue), we will NOT participate in the SBLF for this bond.  These projections came to us from our bond counsel, Stauder, Barch, & Associates, who have been in business since 1968, consult the majority of school districts and municipalities in Michigan, rate as one of the top ten financial advisory firms in the country, and have consulted on over $32 billion in projects for more than 3,000 entities, including Clarkston Community Schoo ls. FACT:  The state put rules in place to penalize districts that were choosing to live beyond their means and take out bonds beyond 7 mills.  That is why they put the higher mills cost in place.  The state was trying to instill fiscal responsibility into the districts. 

7. The law prohibits using bond dollars to pay for any item purchased with bond dollars beyond its useful life. The law states that bond money can pay for technology for five years only. The bond series will pay for two replacements of technology, or three cycles, over 15 years--once in 2012, once in 2016, and once in 2020--- all equal to or under one mill. This is the sustainability of technology that is so vital to the district. FACT: Simple math would be helpful here.  According to the 1:Global Initiative document (available here) the district published, the technology refreshes are supposed to begin in the fall of 2017 and the fall of 2022 - 5 years apart, not 4 years apart as noted above.  

8. Each bond series is paid in full in nine years.  Those items, including technology, with useful lives below nine years are paid off in full within their useful life. That's the law!  We have and will continue to abide by all laws governing school bonds.  

9.  Debt alone is an incomplete picture. To figure net worth, you must subtract debt from the value of assets. The district has assets of $224 million and owes $155 million as of June 30, 2012 (which is principal and interest and was elsewhere misrepresented as $200 million).  Our $69 million in net worth increases as we pay down this debt each year. Most of the $155 million debt was incurred to expand building capacity for our rapidly increasing pupil population (+3,000 students in 15 years). This debt was voter approved and completely transparent in how it was spent. So in actuality, the district has $8,625 in assets per student (which will increase upon passage of the bond), we have excellent facilities because the community has approved the construction and improvement of facilities as the district has grown, and the care and investment in our facilities has resulted in an outstanding asset portfolio for the entire community.  FACT: Check the District's audit from the fall of 2011 for information for a full understanding of debt to equity. 

10. A state-qualified bond of one mill would require an increase of 5 mills to raise $20 million dollars. The district's administration carefully considered a state-qualified bond structure and wisely determined that a five-mill increase is neither affordable nor rational.  Really?  How long did that take to figure out? 

11. The district's current budget cannot afford to pay for essential technology or capital updates. The district has over the past three years cut its spending by more than $11 million and has balanced its budget. The district does not have the money in its budget to pay for $10 million in technology updates and $10 million in capital upd ates. If it did, it would not ask taxpayers for a millage increase to cover these needs.  FACT: The bond is NOT going to be distributed in one $20 million lump sum, the district doesn't "NEED" $11.7 million in technology, and most of the non-tech needs are not needed now or they would have been included in the last payout of the 2003 bond distribution that was spent less than a year ago. 

12. The district has balanced its budget in each of the last two years.  Prior to that, it made a conscious decision to spend down fund equity (school district's savings account). FACT: The district made a "conscious decision to spend down fund equity"?  Give me a break!  The district spent more than they received and all of their savings too and now they are living "paycheck to paycheck" like a great percentage of residents in this area.  Then the district balanced the budget in FY11 on the backs of the custodians and bus drivers who took significant pay cuts.  The district balanced the budget in FY12 on the backs of the custodians and bus drivers who took significant pay cuts for FY11 and secondarily the teachers, who took no pay cuts, but they did not get raises or step increases in FY 12. 

13. The Clarkston Education Association (the teacher's union) voted unanimously to support this bond.  

14. The district's technology director does not make $170,000, as falsely reported elsewhere.  Base salary (as listed on the district's transparency report) is $119,699.  
The technology director is the second highest paid employee of the district.  The higher number represents the total compensation package, including pay, TSA allowance, FICA taxes, retirement, and health, dental, life, and disability insurance.  

There was no # 15...

16. Yes, the May 8 election will cost $35,000, and the bond will pay for this.
  Excuse me, but if the bond passes, the public will be paying for this in the payback of the bond...  How would the "bond" pay $35,000?  If the bond does not pass, $35k comes out of the 2011/12 fiscal year operating budget.   The 33 other districts and municipalities that will hold elections on May 8 will also pay for them. This is one of the four dates (February, Ma y, August, and November) the state allows school districts and municipalities to put issues before voters.  An August election would generate $300,000 less in revenue than a May election because of the timing of tax collections and repayments.  The district's theory on this is laughable. 

As the superintendent of schools, it is my responsibility to make informed recommendations to the Board of Education and community. It is also my responsibility to improve the educational experience of each student in accordance with research and best practices. This bond is well informed, protects the districts' assets and enhances the educational experiences of each child we serve.
It would be a tremendous injustice if people made their voting decisions on misinformation.  Like some of the misinformation the district supplied?
See you on election day!  Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.