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Saturday, June 23, 2012

CCS propaganda and my response to it re: collaborative dialog, following policy, deception, missing board meeting videos, "unlimited Schools of Choice", November 2012 school board elections, etc.

From: Mike and Dawn Schaller
To: "Cheryl McGinnis",
Cc: Steve Hyer, Elizabeth Egan, Barry Bomier, Joan Patterson, Susan Boatman, Rosalie Lieblang, Phil Custodio (Clarkston News), Wendi Reardon (Clarkston News), Monica Drake (Oakland Press), Joette Kunse (Oakland Press).
Sent: Friday, June 22, 2012 7:29:44 PM
Subject: Re: 6/11/12 Board Package - missing documentation and questions

Mrs. McGinnis,

See our comments below in red and bold.

PS.  November is coming soon!  The same voters who voted down the $20 million Bond Election will be voting again in November.  Many of them are upset with Dr. Rock,  Mr. Hyer, Mr. Bomier, Mrs. Egan, and you regarding the May bond election.  You and Mr. Bomier are up for re-election.  It's time to clean house and vote in Board members who actually think of the impact of their actions before they act/vote and are not just rubber stamps for the superintendent. 

We regularly receive communication from district staff  and parents who do not like the direction of Dr. Rock/the district/the majority on the board.  Employees fear speaking out due to their fear of retribution from Dr. Rock for having an opinion contrary to his.  Parents are afraid that if they speak out against the superintendent, their children will not be given opportunities for sports or educational programs.

Neither employees nor parents should be afraid of retribution for speaking their mind, but they are, and that will be one of Dr. Rock's ugly legacies.

Thank you.

Mike and Dawn Schaller
http://acrosstheboard-clarkston.blogspot.com/
From: "Cheryl McGinnis" 
To: Dawn Schaller
Sent: Friday, June 15, 2012 8:22:07 AM
Subject: Re: 6/11/12 Board Package - missing documentation and questions

Mrs. Schaller,

Thank you for contacting the Board of Education.  We do read your communications and do appreciate your input and your feedback. It sure doesn't feel like it when I get no responses to my questions or concerns and receive blank, non-response emails from Dr. Rock's "canned response" email address, rdrock+canned.response@clarkston.k12.mi.us . 

I will address your concerns on behalf of the Board of Education.  However, I believe that to truly engage in a collaborative dialog, it may be best for you to seek understanding on these items before making unilateral flamboyant accusations about each and every item you have a concern with. "Collaborative dialog"?  There is no such thing as "collaborative dialog" in Clarkston Schools.  We have sought "collaborative dialog" and "understanding" many, many times.  However, if the district:
  • loads board packets for Monday meetings late on Friday afternoons,
  • doesn't respond to emails sent before a Monday meeting regarding content of the Board Packet,
  • loads additional documentation in the Board Packet within hours of the meeting (especially when it's obvious the Board members had the documentation since the previous Friday),
  • doesn't load certain controversial material at all (even after a meeting when it is promised to be loaded),
  • and does not respond to my emails or the comments that I or others present at meetings,
  • then there is no such thing as "collaborative dialog"
  • Therefore, I cannot receive any "understanding" beyond the hidden documentation in a Board Packet (if there is any) and what is unearthed by Board members asking questions during Board meetings.  Sorry, but I do not believe that my comments are "unilateral flamboyant accusations". 
For instance:

·         Consistent with Policy 3420 upon recommendation of the Superintendent, Dr. Rock intends to recommend a restructuring of salaries within the central administrative team.  This restructuring will be discussed at our next meeting and was outlined in the proposed 2012-2013 budget.  You cite Policy when it is convenient for you or Dr. Rock.  Your use of the word "restructuring of salaries" for giving raises to Central Office and other highly paid, non-union employees (and only those employees) is deceptive and improper while the district is pushing for continued pay freezes or cuts from the unions, and selling off the aides to a third party employee leasing company and taking away their retirement.   I sent this email before the meeting, but there was no "restructuring of salaries" noted in the proposed 2012-2013 budget information in the 5/11/12 Board Package.  If I had not brought it up and Mrs. Lieblang, Mrs. Patterson, and Mrs. Boatman hadn't also brought it up, I believe that it would not have been discussed in the meeting at all.  I believe that it would have been addressed a few months down the line during a board meeting as a question of "where did this budget increase come from?"  As happened last year in regard to other stealth budget increases that should have been (but had not been) brought to the board directly for approval, I believe that Dr. Rock's response would have been his mumbling a comment like, "the Board approved this with the 2012-13 budget in June."  The budget increase in the pay for Anita Banach was brought up in my comments at the meeting itself before there was any discussion on the subject, rather than being in this email.  However, I find it completely inappropriate for the district to "restructure salaries" of the highly paid Central Office employees' positions in order to justify huge pay raises (specifically for Anita Banach, as I don't know of any other planned salary restructuring).  What is the reason why the contract needs to be "restructured"?  The district has a deficit budget (that will be lowering fund equity) and the district is expecting more work/effort from all of it's employees, not just the Central Office employees.  Yet the district is expecting the union employees to hold the pay cuts or freezes in the contracts being negotiated now while giving Anita Banach an almost 13% raise?!?!  Is Anita Banach being given this as a reward for getting the unions to agree to pay freezes?  That is part of her job.  Anita did a lot of the bond presentations that had false information, was that part of the reason for the raise?  Shame on Dr. Rock for even considering giving raises to ANY employee with the current economic situation facing the district, especially with the aides being sold to a third party company (and losing their retirement) and union personnel retaining pay freezes! 

·         2011-12 Q3 Amendment – As stated in last nights board meeting this cost associated with Negotiated Benefits is due to an Accounting procedure in regards to the cut off of the prior health benefits plan and needing to accumulate it’s cost in 2011-12.  Approximately $1.4 million of health benefit costs from 2010-11 not expensed until 2010-11 will need to be adjusted. I do understand WHY there were higher "negotiated benefits" for the 2011-12 fiscal year.  This was discussed a year or two ago in a board meeting when self funding was originally brought up.   What I questioned was why the district had not planned for that increase in the Q-2 Budget Amendment...  The Q2 Amendment was prepared well after the expenses hit the district, so how could the district not have known and budgeted for it at that time?  It is very suspicious...  Was this done in order to allow for the budget to look like there was more money available there for technology upgrades needed for non-bond expenses for implementation of the $20 million bond (had it passed)?

·         Consistent with past practice, there will be times based on many factors that items on the agenda may NOT be seen twice.  That is true, but there is a distinct difference between a policy change of a policy that requires annual reconfirmation (requires discussion and then action) and an annual reconfirmation of a policy that has no changes (action/vote only).  After reading your explanation of the "action" vs."discussion at one meeting and the then action at the next meeting" agenda item description, the word "disingenuous" comes to mind...  This has been discussed and reiterated at many meetings.  As chair I have no issue with board members voicing their concern of an item scheduled for action at a single meeting not having been discussed first.  I’m open to their concerns and can adjust the agenda accordingly, based on the consensus of the board and best practices of the district.  As chair, I will continue to work with board members who communicate with me their concerns regarding the agenda before a scheduled meeting.  Your comments sound much like a Robert Ficano (Wayne County Executive) statement.  I believe that your "chair" position appears to be going to your head.  As the President of the School Board, you have an even greater responsibility to the public to be doing the "right thing" for the students, parents, voters of the district, and your fellow Board members.  You and Dr. Rock also have a legal obligation to follow Bylaws and Policies when preparing the Board meeting Agenda and Board Packet.  As such, you and Dr. Rock have a contractual obligation to prepare certain types of agenda items as "Discussion Items" before they are scheduled as "Action Items".  It is not the responsibility of Board Members to ask "pretty please" to have those inappropriate "Action Items" from the agenda be changed to "Discussion Items."  The "consensus of the board" is also a duplicitous issue.  Shame on you for trying to pass this off as a legitimate way to deal with this.  I have seen at board meeting after board meeting where this subject is brought up by Rosalie Lieblang, Joan Patterson, or Sue Boatman.  It is usually argued disingenuously by your "group" and usually comes to a vote where you, Mr. Hyer, Mr. Bomier, and Mrs. Egan reject the request to change the item from "Action Item" to "Discussion Item" and keep the stealth item as a vote.  Members of your group talk about "compromise" in such issues, but I recall that recently, when a motion was made by Mrs. Lieblang regarding the Project Lead the Way curriculum conversion from "limited" to "unlimited" Schools of Choice, that Mr. Hyer suggested that a better way to handle the issue was to make a motion to "table" the Item.  Mrs. Lieblang then followed that request to make a motion to "table" the Item, whereby Mr. Hyer proceeded to vote it down...  Please tell me where the compromise was in that action?  The staff and the public have a right to know about some of these major issues before they are voted on.  Your violating bylaws and policies to make it an action item (vote) the first time the issue comes to the board and appears on a Board Packet prevents that.  It should NEVER happen.  I hope that, as is happening to Wayne County cronies, the guilty parties within CCS end up reaping what they have sown also.     
·         I understand there was a technical failure during the recording of the May 21, 2012 board meeting and there was no sound recorded.  Therefore, it seems frivolous to post this taping with no sound.  I requested an explanation for this via several emails and no one from the district would communicate this to me until Matt McCarty advised me at the 6/11/12 Board meeting.  However, do you really think I believe this?
·         A quick comment on School of Choice.  When staffing these classes, administration will “self-limit” enrollment based on classroom capacity.  Therefore, unlimited enrollment does not mean to “infinity and beyond”.  Your description means nothing to me.  With the Project Lead the Way curriculum, the students accepted into the "career immersion pathway" need not take more than one two credit class per school year (only two of 15 annual class credits).  This would allow a great deal of students to be accepted and except for that one two credit class per year, the students would be in regular, non-Project Lead the Way classes.  However, I have five concerns in regard to the Schools of Choice issue:
    • You and Dr. Rock put the request for a change to the Schools of Choice Policy on the Board agenda as an Action Item (vote) before putting it on the agenda as a Discussion Item (just discussion, no vote).  When it was brought to your and Dr. Rock's attention before the meeting and at the meeting, you chose to use your 4/3 majority (McGinnis/Hyer/Bomier/Egan over Boatman/Lieblang/Patterson) to keep it as a vote.  This action allowed your majority group to get it approved before the public knew about it.  I view that as true "stealth management" of a public school district that is unacceptable behavior from the superintendent and all four of his rubber stampers (McGinnis/Hyer/Bomier/Egan), all of whom are currently the officers of the Board of Education.
    • The public has never been asked for their opinion of Schools of Choice in general or "unlimited" Schools of Choice in particular.  I believe that if the district would ask non-biased survey questions on this subject (I believe that the district's surveys in the last three years have historically been biased), you would find that the vast majority of district residents (read voters) are not in favor of Schools of Choice, but I can't imagine the district asking the public their opinion of Schools of Choice unless the survey question were set up as biased.      
    • State law says that if districts have "selective" Schools of Choice, that is considered "discriminatory" and if challenged, the district could be at risk for losing 5% of it's total per pupil State aid for violating the law.  The IB, AP, and CMSTech programs are all officially "discriminatory" because they require the students to have certain qualifications to be accepted into the programs.  The district is therefore risking 5% of it's total per pupil funding to allow a handful of out of district students to be in those programs as was reported in the Detroit News in May of 2012.  SoC actually brings very little funding into the district, very little improvement to MEAP scores, and risks a great deal of district funding from the State.  Therefore, I believe that it's just a bad idea.
    • Implementing "unlimited" Schools of Choice on Project Lead the Way (a totally non-selective curriculum), is a problem this district doesn't need and it would most likely cost the district more in counselors and basic education retraining.  I believe that the district is entirely unprepared to deal with the anticipated educational deficiency and behavioral issues that could occur if the district is inundated with students from schools that are not meeting "Adequate Yearly Progress".
    • I believe that "unlimited" Schools of Choice has the potential to decrease housing values as residents choose to leave the district rather than stay here.
    • I believe that "unlimited" SoC may actually decrease student counts as a result of well-to-do parents pulling their children out of the district and putting them in private schools.  I believe that it has the potential to actually result in lower enrollment numbers than if there was no "unlimited" Schools of Choice.
    • If SoC students are recruited for their sports abilities, it takes opportunities away from resident students.  Any SoC students should have to sit out one year to prevent SoC for sports recruiting.
    • I believe that students and parents from outside of a district do not have the same sense of "community pride" that the parents and students in the move-to district may have.  I believe "unlimited" Schools of Choice would have unintended negative effects in relation to the sense of community in the schools.
Based on feedback on Wednesday, June 14, 2012 the Oakland County Elections, the following statement was received.  “When filling out the heading of the petition, the candidate will indicate they are running for the 6 year term.  Two highest vote getters will received the 6 year term and the 3rd and 4th will receive 4 year terms.”  The Board of Education’s administrative Secretary has also spoken with Oakland County Elections officials and no confusion regarding the terms for the November 2012 Election exists.  Thank you for advising me of this.  There WAS confusion on the terms for the November 2012 election.  Form 0142.3 F1, noted in Board Bylaw 0142.3 in the NEOLA webpage on the district's website was missing from the website (it spelled out the 4 and 6 year terms).  Oakland County was not interpreting the 6 year/4 year terms the same as the form noted.  I had asked Heidi McClain for clarification.  Heidi advised me that she had already requested clarification from the Township and the County.  However, she apparently received an answer, but she never notified me of the result.

I’m glad to see that we have agreement on a process.  The Superintendent search process you outlined in your recent communication is exactly what Clarkston used in its search process.  I do believe we can agree that we disagree on the results of that process, but that is ok.  This board reaffirmed and supported 7/0 the hiring of Dr. Rod Rock as Superintendent of Clarkston Community Schools.  Please don't insult my intelligence with the "7/0 hiring of Dr. Rock".  You and I both know how the vote on Dr. Rock's hiring happened.  Boatman, Patterson, and Lieblang all voted "yes" on Dr. Richards.  You, Hyer, Bomier, and Egan voted "yes" on Dr. Rock.  Therefore, Dr. Rock was "officially chosen by the Board" with only four votes.  Boatman, Patterson, and Lieblang showed their "compromise" to vote yes on the affirmation vote.  Good constructive input is a hallmark of a free society.  I agree that "good constructive input is a hallmark of a free society", but CCS destroys the "free society" concept by refusing to listen to "good constructive input" and planning decisive votes on subjects that affect the community before the community can know what the district is planning on doing. 
  
As always, thank you again for contacting your Board of Education.

Cheryl McGinnis, Board President


On Mon, Jun 11, 2012 at 4:01 PM, Dawn Schaller wrote:
Dr. Rock and Mrs. McClain,

Will you be updating the 6/11/12 Board Package on item 5.2 with the 2012-13 Custodial contract?  BAR 5.2 says that documentation will be added as soon as possible, but there is nothing there as of right now.  Can this be updated before the meeting?

Action Item 5.8, the "2011-12 Budget Amendment Q-3" shows:


  • There was a 21.1% overall increase ($1,756,242.00) in the budget of the cost of "Negotiated Benefits" from the estimates on the Q-2 budget amendment (from $8,326,353.00 to $10,082,595.00).  How could the district not know at the time of the Q-2 budget amendment that the costs of the benefits would be so much higher?
  • There is nothing to compare the budget to from previous years because the budget was not presented this way in previous years.  Please provide comparable final numbers from the same categories from previous years. You did not address this concern.
Discussion Item 6.1, the "Projected 2012-13 Budget Report" shows:
  • The negotiated benefits amounts for employees for the initial 2012/13 budget reflect the same amounts used for the "2011/12 BAQ-3 final budget " numbers (as they should), but they are marked on the spreadsheets as "BAQ 2 Amended 2011/12 Budget" numbers (in error).  The projected 2012/13 budget numbers reflect a 13.8% decrease over the BAQ-3 amounts shown on the spreadsheet, but in the comments section, it says "$15,000 cap, 6% increase".  What exactly does the district expect the negotiated benefits amounts to be in the budget year after a 21.1% increase and no changes in the medical plan - a 13.8% decrease, a 6% increase, will the employees pay a portion of their benefits now, or what?  With such an large and important expense, I would expect this amount to be correct on the spreadsheet.
  • Do the budgeted amounts for the employee salaries and other benefits reflect the expected costs from the currently in negotiation employee contracts, or do they reflect 2011/12 contract amounts?  None of this is reflected in the documentation in the Board Packet.  You did not address this concern.  
By the way, I am still waiting on a response to why the last board meeting (May 21, 2012) is still not loaded to Comcast channel 22 and the district website.

Thank you.

Dawn Schaller

--
Cheryl McGinnis
President, Clarkston Community School Board of Education
Home of Inaugural National Green Ribbon School 2012, Clarkston High School
"If you believe in yourself and have dedication and pride and never quit, you'll be a winner.  The price of victory is high but so are the rewards."  Paul "Bear" Bryant

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