They Cared!

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Over a year ago I posted “Does District 103 Mater?”  In it I rhetorically asked if the good people in Lyons Elementary School District 103 cared that the mayor of Lyons had taken over the school district.  Well they did care, because two days ago three of Mayor Getty’s hand-picked school board members were voted out – they now have a minority of seats!

I can’t tell you how the news of this election buoyed my spirits.  After watching the worst kind of self-serving and anti-individual-rights politics for the past few months, it is refreshing to find out that people still care enough about their schools to vote for those who care about children.

Democracy still works in America for those who stand up for what is right.

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Snollygoster in District 103? It’s Your Choice

 

 

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Graphic Courtesy of the HikingArtist.com

Snollygoster (Def.): A politician who puts politics ahead of principle

On April 4th the good people of Lyons, McCook, Stickney, Forest View and Brookfield will be voting to elect school board members for Lyons Elementary School District 103.  I endorse Sharon Anderson, Shannon Johnson and Marge Hubacek.

Why? Because for the past 2 years the board members that snollygoster Chris Getty put in place haven’t made decisions that are good for children.  In fact, they made decisions that are good for Getty, which are ultimately bad for children.

When you hire Getty’s buddy at $1,000+ per day and hire a bunch of unneeded custodians you are taking money away from children.  That’s what snollygosters do – they make decisions that are good for themselves and not for the good of the children.

If the people of Lyons want to continue voting Getty in as mayor, that’s their choice.  But do the people of Stickney, Forest View, McCook and Brookfield want Getty and his henchmen to continue making poor decisions regarding their children?  I hope not.  I would urge them to vote for Anderson, Johnson, and Hubacek.  Their commitment is to the children, not to the politicians.

 

PS – I had an old D103 friend contact me the other day and asked why I haven’t been writing any Education Under Attack articles.  I told her I’ve been retired and away from District 103 for almost five years now.  It’s not my fight anymore – it’s the community’s.  I hope they take their responsibility for their children seriously and vote in school board members who will put children first.

STOP THE WASTE & BE ACCOUNTABLE: Part 6 of 13

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Graphic Courtesy of Hikingartist.com

I had to call the Lyons School District 103 Admin Building the other day.  A very nice woman picked up and greeted me with “Village of Lyons.  Oops, sorry (giggle).  School District 103.”

It got me wondering how many people have left District 103 since Mayor Getty’s school board began just over a year ago (see HERE, HERE or HERE for more).  The list:

  1. Assistant to the superintendent
  2. Payroll Coordinator
  3. Benefits Coordinator/Receptionist (see above)
  4. Director of Technology
  5. Network Administrator
  6. Infrastructure Support
  7. Director of Curriculum
  8. Title I/ELL Coordinator
  9. Director of Special Education
  10. Director of Buildings and Grounds
  11. Principal of George Washington Middle School
  12. Assistant Principal, George Washington Middle School
  13. Principal of Costello School

Those 13 who left collectively had about 200 years of experience in education.  Most of the replacements for the above staff are friends of Getty, former (and current) Village of Lyons employees, or recommended to Getty by his friends.  They collectively have about 50 years of school experience.

It’s not clear if they understand if they are working for School District 103 or the Village of Lyons.  Or perhaps it is clear.

Essay on How Charter Schools Weaken Democracy and Societly

Dennis Smith, former consultant to the Ohio Department of Education Charter School Office, writes how the formation of charter schools weakens our society – it rings true on several levels.  Read his piece here:

Charters, Vouchers, Individual Choice And Our Strained Social Fabric

 

Effects of School Choice: Holland, Michigan

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While visiting my mother-in-law she gave me an article titled ‘Urban district, suburban community’ from the March 23, 2016 Holland Sentinel newspaper.  The article focused on the long-term effects of school choice on the Holland Public Schools.

The lead sentence of the article stated rather straightforwardly, “State policies that promote school choice have fueled a changing demographic landscape for many of Michigan’s public schools.”  The article goes on to say that 1,600 students (over 30%) within the Holland Public Schools’ boundaries have used the state’s 20 year Schools of Choice law to attend charter schools or go to neighboring school districts.

What caught my eye was the reporter’s assertion that as a result of school choice, the district “doesn’t represent the town in which it operates” and that Holland has become “a fragmented community that prolongs stereotypes.”  The numbers show the demographic differences between the city and school district:

Holland                  White    Hisp./Latino  Black          Asian

2010 Census             68.9%          22.7%        3.2%            2.9%

Holland Public Schools

2015-16                     37.9%         47.1%         7.4%           2.6%

So even though Holland’s population is about 69% White, only 38% of the students in its schools are White.  Similarly, the town is about 23% Hispanic/Latino but its schools have more than twice that proportion.  What happened?

Superintendent of Holland Public Schools Brian Davis points directly at school choice as the reason why the district’s population doesn’t reflect the community it serves. Davis recalls 1996 (when Michigan’s Schools of Choice law went into effect) as a time when Holland parents began to look at neighboring Zeeland schools as a choice. Zeeland was 94% White (2000 census).   Also, providing school choice was an invitation to start charter schools.  Today, 17% of students attending school in Holland go to charter schools.

Davis said some families chose to attend other schools when they noticed an “increasing free and reduced lunch” student population.  He stated that “middle to upper-middle class families with disposable income” were the ones with enough time and money to drive their kids to neighboring Zeeland or charter schools.  It’s not too hard to read between the lines – because they could afford to white families took advantage of the school choice law and left lower-income Hispanic/Latino and Black families in the Holland schools.

Is it OK that school choice allows parents to create segregated schools?  At what point in time do their children learn to live with people who look different from themselves?  Is this the kind of America we want?

Stop the Waste & Be Accountable – Part 5 of $461, 494

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Under “Action Items” on the February 25, 2016 Lyons Elementary School District 103 board agenda was listed, ” XIII E. Motion to Approve Contract Extension for Kyle Hastings as Assistant Superintendent.”

Let’s look at this in a little more detail:

  1. This was not a “contract extension” as Hastings will no longer be the superintendent.  The board ended his current contract and created a completely new position of Assistant Superintendent (which the district never had before) and hired Hastings.
  2. No board members had an opportunity to review the many-paged extension contract before the board meeting.
  3. Hastings receives an 11.1% increase in pay, going from $900 per day to $1000 per day.
  4. Hastings’s contract is four years long – unheard of for school administrators.
  5. Hastings will receive an automatic 3.25% increase in each of the next three years of his contract.  That means in year-four of the contract his salary will be almost $121,000.
  6. Assuming Hastings also receives board-paid health insurance at about $10,000 per year, his first year income will be $110,000 for 100 days of work.  This is about $2.30 per MINUTE of work.
  7. Over the course of the four-year contract Hastings will receive $461,494 in compensation for 400 days of work.
  8. He says he is going to take over the work of Jason Gold.  Mr. Gold’s title was “Coordinator of ELA and Math Initiatives, and Teacher/Principal Retention and Development.”  Hastings isn’t certified to be the ELA coordinator or to evaluate teachers and principals.  He has little or no knowledge of K-8 mathematics.
  9. Hastings said he will also help out in “human resources.”    The board has already hired two people to do the job of the one person (Judy Pohanka) who was doing human resources for many years.  What this probably means is that Hastings’ job will be to check with Mr. Getty before each new staff member is hired.
  10. Getting back to the numbers, Hastings making $110,000 for 100 days of work is equivalent to $253,000 per year for a superintendent working 230 days.

So why the huge contract?  Four years?  A total of $461,484?  Does Hastings have dirty pictures of Getty?  Does Getty owe Hastings for some big favor worth about a half-million dollars?  Or is Getty “paying forward” for some big future favor?  Does it have anything to do with Kyle Hasting’s son Michael Hastings, senator of the 19th Illinois Legislative District? Looking for more turf to control, Chris?

 

 

On the horizon: At the March 24, 2016 board meeting they set up a committee to review the district’s insurance contracts.  Hey, doesn’t Chris Getty own an insurance company?