Friday, March 31, 2006

Oberg Likens SCATS to KKK


SCATS' Give-A-Damn Is Busted

Dear Frank ...

We're very puzzled and concerned by your recent and sudden characterization of Bloggers on SCATS as being "Klansmen." As recently as March 23rd, you posted your comments regarding "phantom jobs" to this site and signed your name. Bravo for you! We thought your remarks had merit and contained useful information, so we used them as part of a "front page" entry on the BLOG.

It appears that you didn't like the attention we gave to your views. Your response has been to characterize all who blog here as "Klansmen," a name most would associate with racism of the vilest kind! You based your comparison on the fact that bloggers are anonymous, like the KKK.

We believe your intention in making that comparison is to attempt to discredit all that is said on this website by suggesting that we are somehow as hate-filled as the KKK. We also believe that it is a cowardly act to attack us so harshly using the indirect means you chose to use, especially given the fact that YOU CONTINUE TO READ THIS BLOG!

You do not need to agree with us, Frank. You do not need to read or respond to anything we write on this blog either. You don't even have to mention that we've worked hard to try to make this blog more sane, and by your own admission "more respectful" than CATS was.

You see Frank, when it comes to your opinion of SCATS, our Give-A-Damn is busted. Knowing the BLOG Administration's name/s would tell you nothing because you do not know us! That means you'd have to rely on hearsay obtained from YOUR "Klansmen," assuming they can take time out from riding around Greece on their high, white horses :)

Sincerely,

SCATS Administration

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Did BOE Call Executive Session Legally?


Questions Linger Over Sudden Closed Door Session

From the Comments:
Anonymous said...
Why did they go to executive session? I was listening at home and missed that part. Seems like a bolt from the blue ... was it planned??
3/28/2006 8:02 PM


Anonymous said...
The Board came out of executive session and voted unanimously to reduce the budget to 4.00% less than what Kehoe proposed by around 1.32% or another 750,000.00. At least it is not 2 million dollars.

3/29/2006 6:44 AM

Anonymous said...
I think they went into executive session because of Frank's comment about slashing more administrative positions. When they came out of session, the first thing they said was no more personnel would be reduced.

3/29/2006 7:53 AM

Anonymous said...
Sounds like they went into executive session to discuss something that should have been discussed in public. If they think they can go in secret session just because a certain budgetary cut would involve a known person they are wrong. It is the position that is cut not the person. Naughty naughty.
3/29/2006 8:27 AM


Anonymous said...
8:27~~ I agree about the exec session seeming fishy. It was very sudden, with little explanation. When they came back, it sounded like the "purpose" was to get Oberg to submit.Does anyone know what they really discussed in there? Were specific personnel talked about? Or was it a group, in general? Board members??? Please tell us!
3/29/2006 1:02 PM

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

BOE BUDGET MEETING

Ken Walsh to D&C : "We've made some cuts and we want to know if we've gone far enough, have gone too far or if we've hit it perfectly."
Article here

*** BUDGET LINKS ***

Gates-Chili Ponders Later Start Time For Teens


Consolidated Bus Runs Save $$

Researchers know that teens could benefit from later school start times, a move that would align their sleep patterns better to their school day schedule. In the case of Gates-Chili Schools, a $51,000 savings could result by consolidating middle and high school bus runs into just one, despite the need to buy 4 extra buses.

We're wondering if such a move in Greece might help boost test scores and graduation rates. What do you think?

STORY

Sunday, March 26, 2006

How Much $$ Can Be Saved By "Houskeeping?"


Eliminating "phantom" jobs is good first step

Steve & Meg are gone. So are some other key District Office personnel. The BOE has turned their attention to building a budget that they hope the community can support.

Some 37 administrative positions got the budget axe. Additionally, the staffing numbers in the budget book are going to be much closer to reality now that a ruse employed by a previous administration has been uncovered. Funding staff positions without ever filling those slots with employees cost this district mega-$$ in recent years. Apparently, the Walts regime was more corrupt than many would have ever have guessed. (See Frank Oberg's comments below.)

The problem now: determining if there are other areas where the books were padded. Also, it would be interesting to learn what goods or services those "extra" funds were expended on. Knowing that, maybe we'd get a better handle on how previous budgets were built and where the numbers were fudged. Any ideas on where to look?


Frank Oberg said...
To the individual that suggested that this BOE and/or Superintendent have cut classroom teachers from the proposed 06/07 budget, (reference page 41 of the budget): For years this school district has carried "on the books" a listing of job position slots with nary a physical person in them. Sometime circa August/September of 2005 at a board meeting, I asked Superintendent Keller-Cogan to remove these "phantom" jobs from our reports. She agreed to do so once a personnel report was updated. Carrying these "phantom jobs" on the books was a ploy of a former superintendent as these jobs were approved but never filled. The decline in listed positions as shown in the budget document is merely a reflection of taking that purely administrative house keeping action. Mr. Schroeder spoke about these "reductions" at the March 21 BOE budget hearing. The purpose of this posting is merely to set the factual record straight. It has been the position of this current BOE during this year's budget process not to reduce the classroom teaching force.

Frank Oberg
3/23/2006 9:08 PM


BOE MEETING-- TUESDAY, 6:30PM
Speakers may sign-up starting at 6PM


*** BUDGET LINKS ***

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Petitions Are Out, Rumors Abound

Spring is the season for BOE candidates. Soon, lawns will bloom with signs that support one or more people who are vying for three seats. Word is that 10 or so petitions have been taken out. Signatures are being collected door-to-door, at meetings, even at a local restaurant's cash register. Apple Annie's appears to have a stash of old signs they may be readying with fresh paint (or maybe they're spring cleaning the storage shed?).

So, just who is running for school board in Greece this year and what are people saying about them? Here's the list of potential characters ... er ... uhmm ... contenders people are talking about:

George Hubbard -- has already served 3 yrs. Known for his petitions to the Commissioner. A real thorn in the district's buttock. His brother Charlie is on the BOE now

Christine Latus -- a district parent that some claim is cozy with CARE (she WAS at their meeting)

Roger Boily -- a controversial former Town Supervisor who will likely be remembered for a certain sewer project & for hiring Chuck Schwab. Also a former teacher.

Carolyn Hauer -- a political "wannabe;" announced she's running with Boily. Will she regress to using her politically-connected maiden name, Eckert? Stay tuned!

Carla Picaretto -- a parent, virtual unknown ... maybe best kept that way ... ?

Julia VanOrman -- former PTA Prez; she's hoping that's some sort of "credential" for the job

Mona Francis -- PASSN leader; CARE/HMO supporter and very vocal ... necessarily so

Patrick Tydings -- parent; lawyer; candidate in a previous BOE election ... going for 0 for 2 ??

Larry Sweet -- currently holds a BOE seat (minority side) ... could a 2nd term = sado-masochistic tendencies??

Gary (CAT) Elling -- Odyssey parent; Tom Kackmeister look-alike; Meg supporter; AKA -- "Marty Jacobs!?" ... his rumored associations are many, real contributions probably too few to matter

Doug Skeet -- Former GCSD employee; currently a district critic ... C'mon Doug! Why would anyone want to trade half the year in Florida for a 3 year seat on this BOE?!

There you have it... our tongue-in-cheek, noncomprehensive and nonscientific listing of the names being tossed about on the street. One thing's for sure! No one can claim we're taking sides :)

If we missed someone that you know is running, tell us about it. Tell us what you think of these possible future elected officials.


Budget Cuts & Other Ideas for the BOE ...

*** GREECE BUDGET LINKS HERE ***

FROM THE COMMENTS:
Anonymous said... "... get rid of all the dignitary tables and chairs and leave more room for the citizens. The UN style table and the distance of the 10K podium from the board is a little ostentatious ... put in more chairs for the regular people. let the employees except fro whoever is playing the super that night sit with the rest of us... We are also still waiting until we are "allowed" to take the elevator to the 3rd floor without having to pass the retinal scan. During the hours of operation of the records access office...the clerk...8-5...the citizens should be able to proceed to her office and submit a FOIL or a question or a letter to the board in person. What are you afraid of?" 3/20/2006 6:34 PM

Anonymous said... "How much can be saved by stopping expenditures for all the extra food the BOE eats ... dinners, snacks, drinks, etc. The schools are spending money funding luncheons with the community too. Seems like a waste of $$ to me" 3/22/2006 8:23 PM

Anonymous said... "Don't we have a $1 mil "pouring rights" agreement with Coke? Where's that money going?" 3/22/2006 11:33 PM

Anonymous said... "The money for the board dinners is small compared to the money spent on staff attending national conventions and conferences... Also the district has in the past paid for the top staff and principals to have memberships in the business associations like the chamber. And the district owns some prime commercial property . About 20 acres. that could be sold for about a million. The pepsi pouring rights makes about 300k a year that goes into the general fund and not into a reserve as was originally promised. And there will be the unused Westridge facility that a private citizen gets to collect all the rental from each year. Maybe that could be seen as necessary to be used for school purposes as was guaranteed in the original vote. Maybe when former town board members tell us about the secret christmas present to the school board in dec 1996 we will know as a community why that meeting was not posted...There was a transfer of property at that meeting signed by the supervisor and the board president at the time. The piece of property is titled "northhampton elementary school" 3/23/2006 8:08 AM

Anonymous said... "Since a new Community Center is about to open, what WILL happen to West Ridge? What about all the arrangements that were made between the elem. school there & the center, like the time spent with seniors reading in the classrooms, or the kids going to "help" with events in the senior center? Will that space sit empty now? At WHOSE expense? How will the school of choice kids adjust without all the "extras" the association with that center located in there bldg provide?" 3/23/2006 12:53 PM

Anonymous said... "I thought Christa owned that portion of the building and that there was no cost to the district?" 3/23/2006 1:39 PM

Anonymous said... "The truth is if we need to have a 2 million reduction in the budget it has to come from the largest employee group... the teachers.For years it took 30 years for a teacher to reach max. salary. I understand max. salary is now between $83,000-$86,000 a year.With Super Steves desire to "buy" the teachers (GTA) he lower the number years to max. salary from 30 to 23 years. This action will cost the district millions of dollors as the teachers will be at max salary quicker and for seven additional years...The District should ... save millions by moving the number of years to reach max back to 30 years, as it is in almost all other school district, over three years like 25 yrs, then, 27 years, then 30 years."
SincerelyDoug Skeet 3/23/2006 1:55 PM

Anonymous said... " Mr Skeet described fringes which represents a large part of the "uncontrolable" budget increase... The teachers contract requires the taxpayer to pay 90% of their health insurance PLUS put $700 per teacher into a medical savings account. The average salary increase per year is 4% no matter what the rest of the economy is doing nor individual job performace is. In some years the raise is as much as 9%. ... some years I have gotten less than a 1% raise. As the cost of health ins. has gone up the portion I have to pay has also gone up. I put MY money in the medical savings account. It is a tax exempt fund so I save some that way. I also do not get a pension. I put money in a 401k, other investments, and my company does have a matching program, but again it is based on how well the company does each year. It is MY job to plan and pay for my retirement NOT THE TAXPAYERS! I would love a job that paid this much, gave me over 2 months vacation each year plus sick days, paid my health cost, and gave me money after is retired on top of Social Security.If we really want to limit the increase in the cost of education each year the district MUST change the way the contracts are written....Teachers work very hard and deserve to be paid well. We just can not afford to pay them this well anymore. ...We will spend almost 1 million dollars on the sports programs next year. Is sports more important than math or science..." 3/23/2006 4:38 PM

Anonymous said... "In Greece, the educational programs are a mere appendage to the sports/music programs. We don't hear about any lack of materials, equipment, transportation, etc to fund them ... EVER! It's time to make these programs true extra-curriculars. They should be held AFTER school, not included in the school day in any way. They should be largely, if not fully, self-supporting, the way we have made continuing education programs. If they can't keep themselves going, maybe the kids can get educated without them... it's high time we FOCUS on EDUCATION, instead of fluff..." 3/23/2006 5:30 PM

Anonymous said... "Don't forget that teachers and administrators can go to any college on the district's bill for their master's, doctoral or administrative certification. Nowhere else. Hey why not help them pay for a full ride at the UofR...." 3/23/2006 6:09 PM

Anonymous said... "Ever hear of an over-priced, dust-catching grand piano at the "Athena Performing Arts Center?" Just typing that "title" out makes me feel ill .....no parent raised funds for that or a multitude of other "extra" stuff. We can no longer afford to be all things to all people. Time to focus on EDUCATION." 3/23/2006 6:29 PM

Anonymous said... "The coaches and the sports equipment are paid for with district funds not boosters. The music lessons are not paid for by the parents but the district as the teachers are employees. The rooms are district rooms. The bands and choruses meet during the school day in the high school and are part of the curriculum. The boosters pay for the trips...There is an amazing amount of money that goes into the expenses of the musicals at Athena. Up until this year they brought in professional sound and light people and professionals in their orchestra for the shows... It is not offset entirely by the tickets." 3/23/2006 6:30 PM

Anonymous said... "That property is not locked from the commercial property on its other sides and those owners would pay a pretty penny for it. In fact the developers that do a lot of building fro home depot and Walmart own the property just south of the town department of public works. They would absolutely love that parcel. There are no plans to build a school at the geographic center of greece (center if you count the northern boundary as where the intake for the water authority a mile out in the lake)now or in the future. We are in declining enrollment and like the homeowners around here should make do with what we have. After all we just spent 119.5 million on the building projects. Let's sell that latta long pond land and take over the building that is doing us no good on the westridge property. Why did we build that in the first place. Does anyone have yagielski's number?" 3/23/2006 10:49 PM

Anonymous said... "Why is it so hard to cut the budget this year??? According to the HMO campaign of last year, there was a ton of overspending. Where's all that money?" 3 /24/2006 9:24 AM

Anonymous said... "Clarkstown is much more upscale than Greece is ... more like Pittsford, esp. in terms of income. Let's face it folks. Greece is a blue collar community in the Appalachia of NY." 3/24/2006 2:17 PM

Friday, March 24, 2006

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Meg Seals Deal With Clarkstown BOE


Clarkstown To Pay $202,000

Read Article Here

Webster Schools Receive New EEOC Case


Faces Federal Lawsuit In Another

D & C Article


Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Can We Cut $2million More From the 2006-07 Budget?

Kehoe Directed To List, Priortize
Additional Areas To Target

During the course of the first Budget Review session of the season, The Greece BOE directed Interim Supt. Josephine Kehoe to construct a priortized list of additional possible budget reductions that may total up to $2million. Although both the Supt. and the BOE acknowledged the difficulty associated with such an undertaking, the list is to be ready before next weeks planned session where the review process will resume.

Recently, Maggie Brooks asked the citizens to help her trim the County's proposed budget and many offered input with some unique ideas. Now we're asking you. Do you have any suggested areas where the district should look for taking potential reductions? We'd like to hear about them.

Here Kitty, Kitty!!


CAT BLOG Vanishes!!

Speculation abounds over the disappearance (CAT-napping?) last night of the CAT (Citizens For Accountibility and Truth In Greece Schools) BLOG that is hosted with us on BLOGSPOT.

This BLOG's Administration last saw the CAT BLOG during the early hours of the BOE meeting. At that time, several recent postings were in response to BOE member Joe Moscato's warning to those who are leaving anonymous messages on his phone. This morning, CAT was gone, replaced by an odd, nearly empty template.

We encourage anyone who knows the whereabouts of CAT, to please share that info with us!


BOE Meets On Budget


School District Budget Links Here!


Monday, March 20, 2006

Teacher Evaluations: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly


The Buzz Continues ... Where's The Union?

From the Comments:

Anonymous said...
If the auditors, EEOC, and independent lawyers all found problems with the eval system, why in the world would it still be used? I don't think we can afford any more abuses - and if Administrators are still around from the era of discrimination and harassment, you can bet they'll continue to misuse the system. 3/18/2006 9:47 AM


Anonymous said...
I totally agree. As a Teacher I have always felt intimidated by being observed without having anything clear expectations for the evaluation prior to my observation... Without this the entire process is totally arbitrary and ripe for abuse... The entire evaluation system needs to be re-worked.


Anonymous said...
Makes a lot of sense to me. Don't scrap the process - just define it so that the "grey areas" that have allowed Administrators to abuse the system are removed.No one disagrees with an evaluation system, it just needs to be fair. 3/18/2006 10:11 PM


Anonymous said...
Anyone know how other districts handle their Evaluations and Observations? 3/19/2006 6:23 PM


Anonymous said...
that's a great question!! seems to me the union's should share that info 3/19/2006 6:40 PM


Anonymous said...
I think the Greece Teachers Union has been asleep for the past 6 months. Way to stand up for your membership!!!Looks like it has been all Board of Ed and specific Teachers sticking their neck out, not the Union. Didn't a new Union President start in September? Looks to me like they should bring back their former President - this one's not doing a damn thing. 3/19/2006 10:08 PM

Anonymous said...
Excellent points by the past few postings. GTA - stand up for your Teachers! Work out a fair evaluation system with the district. Stop wasting time! Git-R-Done! Excellent point about asking what other districts do for Teacher evaluations.Git-R-Done! 3/19/2006 10:41 PM


Anonymous said...
On the subject of Teacher evaluations - A quote from General George Patton comes to mind:"No combat ready unit has ever passed inspection." A sincere thanks for all that our wonderful Teachers do!

3/20/2006 4:43 PM

Meetings, Meetings, Meetings ...


Board of Education --

Proposed Budget Review Sessions
6:30PM, March 21 & March 28;
Apollo Middle School, 750 Maiden Ln.

PASSN Meeting w/Dr. Kehoe --

April 6, 2006; 7-9PM
1250 English Rd.
(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints)

For more info, contact: GreecePASSN@Yahoo.com
or visit: http://passn.greeceny.org/

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Monroe County High School Safety Reports


Greece Provides Data Requested By FOIL *

"HOW SAFE IS YOUR GREECE HIGH SCHOOL?"

Arcadia -- 1390 Enrolled; 91 Total Incidents; 6.5 Incidents/
100 Students; 63 Personal Injuries & Intimidations

Athena -- 1428 Enrolled; 51 Total Incidents; 3.6 Incidents/

100 Students; 44 Personal Injuries & Intimdations

Odyssey -- 447 Enrolled; 56 Total Incidents; 12.5 Incidents/

100 Students; 52 Personal Injuries & Intimidations

Olympia -- 1516 Enrolled; 148 Total Incidents; 9.8 Incidents/

100 Students; 124 Personal Injuries & Intimidations

** Data from print edition of D&C -- 3/19/2006 pg. 11A

Democrat & Chronicle Article
"The good news ... there were no homicides or kidnappings in any Monroe County high school last year. But there were more than 8,600 reported disruptive incidents overall, including 3,300 acts of intimidation and harassment, almost 250 drug and alcohol offenses, more than two dozen sexual offenses and scores of weapons recovered, mostly knives."

* Oops!! We apologize for the misleading headline posted earlier today!

Budget To Cut Jobs, Tax Impact Explained

How it works
"Some Greece taxpayers could pay more in total school tax next year despite a projected tax rate decrease. That's because the overall value of properties in the town rose about 12 percent this year. Last year's typical home was valued at $100,000 and had a tax bill of $2,465, excluding exemptions. This year, that home is worth $112,000 and would have a tax bill of about $2,614 if the rate drops to a projected $23.34 per $1,000 of assessed value."
Democrat & Chronicle Article

Friday, March 17, 2006

Has Meg Violated Her Gag Order?


Clarkstown struggles to accept her;
Parent refers to her as a "felon"

Meg: "Intelligent people are never swayed by innuendo and hearsay. I'm convinced that once the work has begun, this will rest somewhere in our remote past."

"Keller-Cogan said Greece's new school board majority — members of a taxpayer group concerned with school spending — might have used the discrimination allegations as a vehicle to boot her from office."

Article

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Revamp Entire Teacher Evaluation System


Further Abuses Possible;
BOE Action Not Enough

"Anonymous said...

Continued Concern Over the Teacher Evaluation Process

It is my understanding that the action taken by Dr. Kehoe to correct problems with the Teacher Evaluation System at Tuesday’s Board Meeting, places a moratorium on “Improvement Plans”. These “Improvement Plans” have been used by certain unscrupulous Administrators as a weapon against Teachers that had been “targeted” by these same Administrators.

While I am extremely grateful for Dr. Kehoe’s decision, I remain concerned that an evaluation system is still in place that has and can be used to harass and intimidate Teachers that dare have an opinion different than that of their administrator.

Example – Special Education Teacher of 14 years with a perfect record - voices an opinion at a CSE last week that is in conflict with the Administrator. After the meeting, Administrator meets with the Teacher and explains how unhappy he was with her openly disagreeing with him at the CSE. Two days later, Teacher is informed that they will be scheduled for an observation, not by the Administrator that usually is responsible for their observation, but by the Administrator that was upset with the Teacher from the CSE incident.

While the observation and subsequent evaluation has not occurred yet, the actions of this Administrator are a clear attempt to intimidate the Teacher. With no standards or rubric for the observation, the Administrator in question can go in and “find” something (anything) and use it as a reason to write an unsatisfactory observation review and evaluation.

The entire evaluation system is flawed and needs to be suspended pending implementation of a new system with actual standards explaining what a “meeting standards” observation is. This new system must also have in place safeguards (appeal process, independent review, etc) that will prevent the discrimination, harassment and intimidation of the past from occurring again in the future.

I beseech the Board and Dr. Kehoe to please consider suspending the entire system. This will not only allow us to step back and reevaluate those that have already been placed on improvement plans, but it would also prevent future incidences of harassment from occurring."

3/16/2006 9:14 AM


Monroe County Population Falls Again

Only Erie County Lost More

Despite an influx of 1650 immigrants (highest in upstate NY), some 6600 residents left the area from July 2004 to July 2005.

Details: D & C Article

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

$180.4M Budget May Cut 37 Administrative Jobs


Kehoe: "I wanted to keep any reductions as far away from the classrooms as possible."

Reductions in staff may come from Offices of Communications, Student Learning, Human Resources, Finance & Professional Technology. No teaching reductions are planned.

A separate $325,000 bus proposition is planned. If both the budget & the proposition are adopted by the BOE & approved by voters, the tax rate could fall from $24.24 to $23.44 per $1000 of assessed value.

Details in today's Democrat & Chronicle

Superintendent's Proposed Budget 2006

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Kehoe Caps Budget With 3.88% Increase


Plan Qualifies District For Pataki's $400 Rebate;
To Net An Overall Tax Reduction


Interim Supt. Josephine Kehoe presented a budget proposal to the Greece School Board tonight. Under her spending plan, individual schools will see an extra $200,000 ( 10%) increase in funding, while District Office will undergo several major staffing reductions. Details coming soon ...

Clarkstown - Current Supt. To Remain Thru 2006

From The Journal News --

"Clarkstown Superintendent of Schools William B. Heebink will continue to work for the district for six months for a salary of about $107,000 after he steps down from his current post."

"Heebink, who is retiring as superintendent June 30, will serve as "superintendent emeritus" from July 1 to Dec. 31 of this year. "

"The Board of Education recently announced Heebink's successor would be Margaret Keller-Cogan, the former superintendent of schools in Greece, N.Y. She is scheduled to take over for Heebink in the summer. "

"Keller-Cogan said she's looking forward to working with Heebink."

"He appears to be a very gracious, intelligent and kind person," she said. "He will be a distinctively advantageous resource for me."


Full story: (http://www.thejournalnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060314/NEWS03/603140326/1019/NEWS03)

Board To Accept Resignations TONIGHT!

From Channel 13 News (13 WHAM.com) --

Suspended Administrators Expected To Resign

Update: 3/14/2006 1:10:08 PM
Greece, NY -- Two suspended school administrators in the Greece Central School system are expected to resign at Tuesday night's board meeting.
Former assistant superintendents Kathy Pagano-Fuller and Brian Ladewig were given the choice to resign or be fired.
They worked under Dr. Meg Keller-Cogan, who resigned in January after the federal government found merit to teacher's claims of discrimination.
It's also expected that district leaders will announce a moratorium on the evaluation system that some teachers claim was discriminatory.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Time To Survey "Satisfaction?"

The laundry list of complaints about the Greece Central School District seems very large. Some employees are unhappy with their union, others with the Board of Education, still others are disgruntled with both. Lawsuits with the EEOC have been filed.

Some parents complain about Schools of Choice, others about the waiting lists or lottery to gain entry to them. Others site a lack of textbooks, while some don't like how the Board of Education conducts their business.

Some residents point fingers at CARE in heated editorials. Other taxpayers complain about too much administration and the cost of their salaries and benefits.

The school district spends too much. The school district spends too little. The BOE micro-manages. The BOE doesn't get involved enough. Too few students are graduating, too few can get into the single IB program the district offers. Parents are under-involved. Parents are involved in ways that aren't constructive.

It seems the only thing anyone can agree on is that few agree on anything!

Perhaps the time has come to revisit the "Satisfaction Survey" concept used in the mid-1990's. Maybe it's time that Greece Central find out what is irking the different stakeholder groups -- parents, employees and residents -- and why.

The venting of frustrations on paper might help clear the air and in conjunction with The Summit, provide some measure of forward momentum for a bureaucracy that seems stuck in controversy. Could it help?

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Defining "Dysfunctional"


Greece School District's Label
Needs Parameters To Facilitate Change

Recently, Greece taxpayers funded an outside auditor's report that labeled the Greece Central School District as "dysfunctional." Unfortunately, little was said to tell us exactly what specific things aren't working and why, or how to go about bringing change to habits that are deeply instilled within district policies, perceptions and practices.

It seems logical that we must identify WHAT specific behaviors, practices, policies, etc. aren't serving us well. Additionally, we must understand why they don't work. Otherwise any changes made may well fall into the same old traps we're trying to climb out of as a district.

To help out the BOE, we're asking you to tell us what specific things you think makes the GCSD dysfunctional.

Here's some food for thought to get you started ...

When problems erupt, is there a tendency to shift the focus onto some other person, group or incident, instead of dealing with the original issue? Do our hiring practices allow for - or promote - nepotism, instead of ensuring we hire the most qualified applicants? Are the PTAs and other groups permitted to operate outside their charters by becoming involved in the politics of the district while the employees in-charge look the other way? Are "pay-offs" given to those who blindly support the GCSD? Is there equity between schools so that EVERY CHILD receives the education and services needed to promote academic "success" ... i.e. graduation? Do we tolerate poor behavior by the adults (parents, teachers, staff, even the BOE themselves)who are supposed to be the role models for our students?

We're sure the list is long. Please help us! Tell us what's dysfunctional and why.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Clarkstown Teachers Support Meg


Did Greeceschools.com Posting Mislead?

Yesterday, greeceschools.com (we saw the entry) posted an entry that appeared to suggest that Clarkstown Teachers Assn. President, Greg Montague, stated that Keller-Cogan was hired despite the Association's concerns over her past. Today, The Journal News reports that Montague says he did not write the entry and was contacting the website to have it pulled when it vanished.

Full article: http://www.thejournalnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060311/NEWS03/603110307/1

Democrat & Chronicle: "Ex-Greece Schools Chief Moves On" ---- http://www.democratandchronicle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060311/NEWS01/603110309

Friday, March 10, 2006

BOE Sets Agenda


BOE agenda: Walsh Plans Proclamation; Kehoe To Present Budget

(http://web001.greece.k12.ny.us/files/28/March%202006%20Agenda%2Epdf)

Chamber Businesses Boycotted??

From the Comments:

Anonymous said...
"It looks like boycotting certain Greece businesses is the only proactive way we can help STOP the dysfunction that abounds in Greece politics. No more Rockcastle Flowers or fishfry Fridays at Long Pond Family Restaurants for my family. The last family car came from a purchase made far from Greece, ending years of patronizing Doan Buick. HSBC is already "history" in our household. Members of the Greece Chamber of Commerce beware!! YOUR BRAND OF POLITICS IS BECOMING MORE THAN WE CAN AFFORD!!"

Anonymous said...
"Go ahead and boycott. It's only hurting the community that you live in anyway. Regardless, I'm sure RockCastle and Long Pond Restaurant have bigger fish to fry than 6 or so people who now refuse to be patrons because they want to be political bullies. You're not the type of person they want to cater to anyway. Looking at the other side of the coin, now I'll get my friday dinner that much quicker."

Anonymous said...
"To the person who posted: "You're not the type of person they want to cater to anyway."So ... WHAT type person DO THEY want to cater to then??? "

Anonymous said...
"Does that mean that if you subscribe to a certain point of view that your food will be cooked unwillingly. Do you speak on behalf of that eating establishment? What if they just assume you hold a certain point of view? That could be risky. I hope they realize that you are putting their good name on the line as you spew forth your jabs. "

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Keller-Cogan responds to BLOGS & discrimination claims ...

Clarkstown may decide on Supt. tonight!

Regarding BLOGS: "I can only say who I know myself to be, and that's a person of very high moral integrity," she said.

Regarding EEOC complaints: "To describe me as someone who has willfully discriminated against individuals is completely the antithesis of who I am," she said. "My moral character wouldn't allow that."

Full story: (http://www.lohud.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060309/NEWS03/603090317/1019/NEWS03)

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Parents' Research Uncovers Meg's Past


Discrimination Claims Follow Both Clarkstown
Supt. Candidates Via Internet

From The Clarkstown Journal:

"The Clarkstown Board of Education president yesterday defended the district's two finalists for superintendent after residents raised questions about controversies the two faced in their previous positions.

"We as a board have done our homework," board President Lisa Lieberman said. "We would not be bringing candidates forth to the community that we were not satisfied had met the criteria, where we had serious questions about integrity."

Lieberman said she had heard from a handful of people who learned of the controversies through Internet searches on the names of the two candidates, Janice L. Dime and Margaret Keller-Cogan.

Bonnie Weisler of New City, who has three children in the Clarkstown schools, was among those who looked up information on Dime and Keller-Cogan online.

"What concerned me was that they were both issues where there was discrimination involved," Weisler said."

Full article: (http://www.thejournalnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060301/NEWS03/603010314/-1/spider)

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Recent comments from our readers ...


Re: Greece Divided ...
Mitch said...
Dear Mr. Skeet,Thank you for coming over to this board. I've been following the information that you've shared and find myself asking questions.They all revolve around causes and cures. Based on your experience, what drove us from the top third of the county to the bottom third in test scores? Where would you suggest that we focus our efforts to begin a turn around?I have come to trust your contributions and ask with all sincerity.

Anonymous said...
Dear Joe Moscato (please, this is anonymous, but I pray that you will somehow see it),Will Greece ever come together? Yes, but it is not yet time. There is a lot of unvented negativity toward the old way that needs to blow off. Please, allow it to. It will help us to heal more completely...
Re: Home To Falling Prices ...
Anonymous said...
According to yesterday's D&C county home sales listings, Greece home sales so far this year (through 2/24/06 - 136 sales) seem to be on pace with the same period last year (141 homes sold).
Median sale prices this year for the same period are up sharply to $105,000 compared to a median of only $95,000 for last year. The current BOE majority took over last July. Apparently that has had a positive impact on home sales in Greece, altho two months of sales data isn't much. Let's keep watching!

Anonymous said...
Give me a freakin' break!The new board having a positive impact on home sales?And Chuck Schwab had a positive inpact on our re-assessment!Get over yourselves!Take a look at the price of a brand new home in Greece. Any chance that might have an impact on increased sale prices?

Anonymous said...
Are you suggesting that new homes in Greece are over=priced or in demand?

Anonymous said...
To the person who posted the detailed information on Clarkstown- would you please post the same information on greece or where to get that information?

Anonymous said...
The statistics of Clarkstown came from a Rockland county real estate site that gave info for different towns. This was found from a google search with the words clarkstown and real estate...

Re: Is Greece Making the Grade ...

Anonymous said...
Notice the buckshaw quote in the article. The head has been removed but the monster was reptilian. I believe your promise Moscato but the teachers are still being harassed by the principals. Dig deeper.

Anonymous said...
and so now its time to cut 3 million from administration-or so thats what some have said. whose next Mr. Moscato on your agenda-Ms. Buckshaw-afterall she is another srong woman with credentials and and education that you may not be able to control?
yes dig deeper-look at the direction the Board of men is taking to get "woman" in GSCD and young white females to move on. probably back to the kitchen or bakesales as one of them seems to think ...

Anonymous said...
Can someone help me out and explain what "Minority Enrollment" has to do with test scores?Are our minority students not performing as well as our non-minority students?

Others Forgotten Amidst J-Mac Mania?


From the Democrat & Chronicle's Editorials --

"Spencerport, too, merits cheers"

"We all have enjoyed the story of "J-Mac" and his special night.

As the father of a developmentally disabled son, I share in the joy. It is heartwarming.
As a resident and faculty member in the Spencerport district, however, I have patiently waited for the other part of this great story to be told.

The team Greece Athena played that night was my home team, the Spencerport Rangers. They may not be going on in the Sectionals, but the lesson that they have taught us should be as important, if not more.

Coach Josh Harter and his players were aware of the special situation before them and chose to "respect the moment." The manner in which they handled themselves has unfortunately been overlooked. They were presented with an uncommon situation and handled it in a manner that deserves praise and admiration. None of them, especially Coach Harter, would seek our gratitude in showing us how we hope we could react if faced with that situation.

We should recognize their efforts as much as we celebrate Jason's accomplishments."

RICK MUELLER SPENCERPORT

http://www.democratandchronicle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060307/OPINION03/603070339

Monday, March 06, 2006

Is Greece Making the Grade With Exams?


"The Test Is Not Over In Greece"

D & C article by Meaghan McDermott discusses
District's performance during upheaval

http://www.democratandchronicle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060306/NEWS01/603060328


Saturday, March 04, 2006

GREECE: HOME TO FALLING PRICES??


Have the school district's troubles affected the town's real estate market?

Amidst the many controversies swirling through the Greece Central School District are claims that the local housing market has taken it on the nose. Some community members repeatedly mention that home prices in Greece are falling or have already fallen due to all of the "bad press." If that's the case, what proof supports their position?

Currently, a townwide reassessment is in process. Properties are being revaluated to ensure they are taxed at "true market value." At last report, some 1100 homeowners planned appeals to argue that their properties are priced above what they can bring if placed on the market. That number is relatively low compared to the out-pouring of complaints heard some four years ago when revaluations were last done.

Does the fact that fewer people are complaining this time around mean that Greece's assessor has done a better job ? Or does the lower number of planned appeals signify that home prices are down and that perhaps taxpayers don't realize their properties are worth less than the set amount? Or could it be that the national trend, which has seen housing prices skyrocket in the last few years, is coming to an end as the bubble bursts and Greece is following that trend?

How can we be sure that IF prices are down, that it isn't attributable to other factors? Factors like the scandal that has embroiled former Assessor Charles Schwab who is at the epicenter of a major FBI investigation for taking kickbacks after allegedly undervaluing industrial/commercial properties?

Whatever the case, it's time to get to the bottom of these accusations. If real estate values have fallen, what data supports the claim? If the sky is falling in Greece and taking home prices with it, then those who are making such claims need to come forward ...
... SHOW US THE PROOF!

Otherwise, they may be creating a self-fulfilling prophecy that will affect all our wallets for many years to come.



Thursday, March 02, 2006

CAN GREECE DIVIDED ...


... BECOME GREECE UNITED?

"It won't take long before the national media sniffs out that Greece is a hotbed of divisiveness. Let's give it a rest." (Posted on CAT - greeceschools2005.blogspot.com/)

The above statement reflects the fear of many. Few would disagree that speculation, rumors, mud-slinging, secrecy and political posturing have all taken their toll on the Greece Central School District during the last 15 years. Factions within the community have formed numerous groups within the district, each promoting their own agenda. With unprecedented scrutiny, organizations like CARE, PTA, CQE, FoG, PASSN, SOS, CAT, CGE and others monitor the "play-by-play" verbiage and actions of the Board of Education. Every move they make seems to draw fire from one or more groups who feel evermore disenfranchised about the direction the school district is taking.

Despite this atmosphere of constant surveillance, performance of the schools appears to be deteriorating. Several Greece schools are now on the NY State "watch list" for poor academic performance. A former principal alleges that nearly 20% of our local high school students fail to graduate ... and no one seems to know why. Teachers filing EEOC complaints resulted in the school board terminating the Superintendent's contract before she barely settled into the job. All of this has led to even more finger-pointing, as the vote on a school budget and election of board members in May approaches.

The questions before us are many. What are the issues? What caused them to become issues? How can so many differing viewpoints be accomodated within a single vision for the district? What can be done to change the course of the district for the betterment of the children who rely upon it for an education? Can a SUMMIT planned in the near future bring so many opposing viewpoints onto the same page so that we can move forward with improving test scores, employee morale and graduation rates?

Clearly, much work lies ahead! Where should we begin? Because it's hard to fix something unless we acknowledge it's broken, let's start with identifying the issues and what caused them. Tell us what matters to you. What needs changing and why? Suggest how we should priortize the list of problems.

Isn't it time that we get our arms around what really needs to change so that we can begin the process of uniting the community around a school district that serves the needs of the children?