Thursday, July 31, 2008

GCSD To Spend $4.2 Million On Struggling Kids

WE GET TO TELL THEM HOW!
With THREE schools on the state's "Needs To Improve" list, public input is desperately needed at hearing on using this state aid.

PUBLIC HEARING on Contract For Excellence
August 12th @ 6PM

"Essentially we have to account for where the state aid money is going. That money is coming in with restrictions and must be targeted toward students who need the most assistance. What we're really trying to do with it is increase our assessment scores through targeted program enrichment." ~~ Lou Alaimo

STORY

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

VanOrman On Audit: Community At Fault For Not Over-Seeing BOE

"I think we learned in the past we need to have a little more eyes,” she said. She hopes the community will take interest in what the board and district are doing. The public wasn’t as involved before and that was part of the problem, she said." ~~ MPNNow

GIMME A BREAK, JULIA!!
How could the community oversee a district that:
Shut down Resident's Forum
Left teachers & parents filing lawsuits over discrimination and Special Education issues Squandered money faster than it could issue change orders
Misrepresented what schools would get in the CIP
and
CONTINUES TO RELY UPON CERTAIN PEOPLE WHO WERE A VERY BIG PART OF THE PROBLEMS COVERED IN THE AUDIT??

The arrogance of this BOE astounds me!! They've said it was "previous boards" that did all these evil deeds, but now turn on the community and blame us. This is beyond outrageous!!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Monday Evening's 15 Minute Comedy Club ...

er ... uhhmm ... I mean BOE Meeting ...

The meeting opened at 6:30PM with just five board members in attendence. After VanOrman read aloud the proposed resolution on the audit response, discussion largely centered on Tydings patting the district and school board on its back for the improvements they are making to problems caused by people who are no longer on the BOE or working for GCSD. Yes, I know he didn't actually say those words, but it is a large part of the message he was trying to convey.

Some suggested wording changes were made and agreed upon. Once O'Toole arrived, the discussion turned to changing some verbiage to reflect that not all members of the district Finance Committee have a background in finance. Amazingly, she actually asked if the resolution and attached document they were about to vote on is legally binding! Thankfully, VanOrman did NOT suggest that they consult the attorneys for an opinion on that!

The vote was unanimous (VanOrman, Tydings, Oberg, O'Toole, Ferington, Boily) to adopt the Resolution & Attached Document. The meeting was then adjourned with the BOE knowing that ALL is well within GCSD-land ...

Monday, July 28, 2008

GCSD's ELA Results

MORE students passing, but LOWER RANKING in County!

RESULTS FOR 2007 vs. 2006*:
3rd Grade ~~ 3rd from last vs. 4th from last
4th Grade ~~ LAST PLACE vs. 6th from last
5th Grade ~~ 2nd from last vs. 4th from last

6th Grade ~~ 5th from last vs. 3rd from last
7th Grade ~~ 4th from last vs. 2nd from last
8th Grade ~~ 3rd from last vs. 4th from last

* info provided by Doug Skeet



Sunday, July 27, 2008

BOE Special Meeting DATE CHANGED* To MONDAY

07/28/2008 Special Meeting
6:30 pm for
"Review & Approval of Corrective Action Plan"

RESOLVED: That the minutes of the meeting of the Board of Education reflect approval of the corrective action plan to be submitted in response to the Report of Examination on the Internal Controls Over Selected Financial Transactions issued by the Office of State Comptroller on April 18, 2008. This corrective action plan is being approved pursuant to Section 35 of the General Municipal Law, Section 2116-a(3) (c) of the Education Law and Section 170.12 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education. A copy of the corrective action plan shall be made available for public review in the District Clerk’s office.

LINK to Action Plan Draft

SAMPLE of how GCSD has "changed its ways" :

Comptroller Recommendation #21
The Treasurer should control when his signature is affixed to District checks.


District Response to Recommendation #21
Given our current operating system, the Treasurer’s signature is programmed into the check writing software from Standard Register. There is no opportunity to allow for a signature card or other mechanism to control when his signature is affixed to district checks. The district will have to rely on mitigating internal controls until a new system can be put into place. The mitigating controls relied on are subject to annual audit by our external independent auditor and will be audited by the district independent internal auditor during the 2008-09 school year.

(Steve's cover letter still shows the July 29th date ;-)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Graduation Rates Data Explained

You would think that the calculation of graduation rates would be a very easy math problem. Basically all you have to do is to take the number of seniors enrolled, divide by the number of seniors that graduate in June of the next year and like magic you have the graduation rate percentage for that particular school year.

If only it could be that simple. Recently Greece Central has made an already confusing and complicated calculation even more confusing. Without any explanation to the public Greece Central started using a graduation percentage of 87% for June 2006. All other reports showed a graduation rate of 80%. Why the difference?

Graduation Calculation Methods:

NYSED 4 Year Cohort Rate: This is the most common calculation method. This method is used by other school districts, newspaper articles and NYSED. In our example for the June 2006 graduation rate, you would take the number of entering ninth graders on 10/1/2002 and divide by the number of those entering students that graduated in June 2006. In 2006 for Greece Central the percentage is 80%. This method calculates the number of students that stayed in high school and graduated in four years. It does not calculate the number of students that transferred in after October 1st of the ninth grade. It does not calculate any students that transferred out.

NYSED 5 Year Cohort Rate: This calculation is done by taking the number of entering ninth graders and dividing by the number of those students who graduate in 5 years. This allows a district to count those students who graduate in August, January and June of the following year. In our example this percentage 83%

No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Rate: The Federal government uses another more complicated method. I really do not fully understand the method. From what I do understand it is a more liberal calculation. It gives a school district credit for students that graduate after entering in their junior year. For Greece this number is 87%.

Senior Graduation Rate: Take the number of seniors as of October 1 and divide by the number of those students who graduate the following June. For our example this percentage is 75%.

As you can see the June 2006 Greece Central graduation rate can range from 75% to 87%. Each method is accurate! The problem I have with Greece Central is that they are publishing the 87% graduation rate without labeling the rate as the NCLB rate. Without the label it appears that the graduation rate has greatly improved , when in reality there has been no change. We do not know if this is a good, bad or neutral rate as we can not compare it to anything. It is just a number. No district that I know of uses this method. We can not even use it with Greece Central to see a trend line as we have no other years at the NCLB. It was dishonest on the part of Greece to use this rate without labeling the rate as the Federal calculation rate.

Now when you see a graduation rate, look for the label. Is is a 4 year cohort or a Federal rate. Hopefully the district will describe or label the rate.

Sincerely yours,
Doug Skeet

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

NY State Comptroller In the News ...

Pittsford Central School District Criticized For Several Practices

DiNapoli's Office Rescinds Retirement Credits For School System Lawyers

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

BOE Plans Special Meeting, Public Hearing

The Greece BOE Plans A Special Meeting July 29th at 6:30pm. (No info has been posted regarding the meeting's purpose, so I'll bring pizza, soda and cards to pass the time :)

The Greece Boe Plans A Public Hearing On The Contract for Excellence on Aug. 12th "at approximately 6:30pm" (Can they "approximate" the time for a public hearing? Will they break the law yet again?)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Do Greece Teachers "Cheat" With District Exams?

I'm sure many of you read the D&C story yesterday about RCSD teachers who used actual exam questions during review sessions held before exams to prime their students.

Is this practice "cheating?" Is it "teaching to the test?" Does it set a "bad example" for students?

Based on family members' reported experiences in GCSD, I do believe this occurs to some degree in our district.

Board Delays Enacting New Sports Participation Policy

Ann Mitchell claims: "three F’s is real for many students and would be a motivation for some of them since they could try out for the team."

Frank Oberg disagrees: "I think it’s just too loose a standard."

Dave Ferington & Gale O’Toole say: "they have a problem with the policy because it would allow students with all D’s to play."

MPNNow

SCATS wonders: WOULD THREE "F's" MOTIVATE YOUR KIDS??
SCATS also wonders: Why not clarify the old policy where it was unclear instead of change it and waste so much time?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

OOPS!! HE DID IT AGAIN??

Or maybe not ... ?

Since we still can't confirm the employment status of Steve Walts after several days of trying, we're taking down this BLOG and removing the comments until we get something more concrete. This in no way means we don't believe what has been said. Surprising us would be tough to do!

Friday, July 18, 2008

ALL POINTS BULLETIN?

PWC Resident said...
There's word out that Waltsie and possibly his boys are going to waltz out of Prince William County Public Schools.

Keep a sharp eye out for these hoodlums. Do NOT give the bad guys any reason to return to your system. 7/18/2008 7:12 PM

Social-Host Legislation Proposed To Curb Teen Drinking

Proposed fines: $250 for the first offense, $500 for the second, and $1,000 and/or up to a year in prison the third time.

STORY

SHOULD PARENTS BE ABLE TO PERMIT DRINKING IN THEIR OWN HOMES?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

"New" BOE Hopeful About District's Future

“I think there were things done differently last year and each year we’re continuing to improve our focus on the district and what we as a school board need to do. And, the fewer distractions, the better our focus.” ~~ Pat Tydings, BOE VP
(Yes, Patrick. Those pesky audits are VERY distracting!)

We have trust in the community but some parts of the community we don’t. So it’s making sure we’re accountable to the people who elected us to do this job for them ... This board is willing to do whatever it takes and they’re willing to keep us moving in a positive direction. ” ~~ Julia VanOrman, BOE Prez
(WHICH part of the community don't you (the BOE) trust, Julia??)

“I don’t think every vote has to be 9-0. It’s okay to have 5-4 votes or whatever because it’s OK to disagree with people on certain instances and I think the main focus is we realize we’re working for the kids and the community.” ~~ Dave Ferrington, new BOE member
(Exactly WHICH instances are OK to disagree on, Dave?? How can you tell?)


“Clearly what’s on my mind is to make sure that we keep our spending and taxing in order so that we’re doing the right thing for kids and that we’re doing the right thing for taxpayers. I feel that we need to significantly improve the total performance of the district from an academic point of view and that’s a tall order.” ~~ Frank Oberg, past VP
(Climbing out of the dumpster on test scores & graduation rates WILL BE a monumental task for sure, Frank! Please, show us HOW to do it for le$$ !!)

“Every time something happens in the Greece Central School District we want to tie it to something that happened 10 years ago. Mistakes were made. Terrible things happened. We need to learn from those mistakes but we’ve got to move forward.” ~~ Sean McCabe, new BOE member
(Maybe the district didn't acknowledge they made any mistakes, so the community can't tell the lessons were learned ;-)

MPNNow

The History Of The "C Average" Policy

Anonymous said...
In 1991 Charlie Hubbard and I discovered that our district had a sports policy in place which allowed students to participate in sports even though the student had two failing grades "F's." We were stunned as where all the parents we talked to. Our children where heavily involved in the middle school and high school sports programs as well as the town summer programs. We could not believe the coaches from the summer programs had stricter rules and guidelines for participation than our educational system!
We approached the school board in 1991 and requested the current sports policy be changed so it required each student to have a "C" average in EACH core subject (English, Math, Social Studies & Science) in order for the student to continue to play. We figured this request was a no brainer since the primary job of the district is academics. We were shocked and disgusted by the responses and excuses we got from the board, administration and coaches. It was apparent right away that the sports programs were a higher priority than our academic programs and it was more important for the leasership of our district and coaches to allow students with failing grades to play sports. The win at all cost mentality.
This policy pitted parents and the district against each other which is opposite of what the district claimed it wanted: More parent involvement in the decision making process. This policy was just plain dumb.
It took Charlie Hubbard and I three years and me winning a seat on the school board and a new board majority before the policy of two "F's" in sports to change. This new policy required each student to have a "C" average in each core subject or they could not play sports. The policy also put in place student academic support so these kids would get the help they needed to pass their courses. It was the board's message that academics had to be the first priority for students. I have no idea when the school board went back to the old policy after I left the board in 1996. It surly must have been a hush, hush change because their was no public discussion at all.
I cannot believe in the 21st century with a global economy, the competition in the job market and our declining middle class, ANY school district in the United States would allow any child to particpate in sports while failing their academic courses.
It takes leadership and guts to put your foot down and say "NO MORE." I really don't care what other districts atheltic policies are. It those districts want to lower their standards that is their problem. But we should not tolerate it and neither should our so called leader. The school board and Superintendent don't need to "study the data." Just lead and cut this policy off at the knees!

Anne Miller
Former Greece School Board Member and proud of my service! 7/17/2008 6:06 AM

Anonymous said...
Thanks, Anne, for the historical perspective. It's been often quoted, but maybe worth citing again- that those who don't study history are condemned to repeat its mistakes. Sounds like we've been here before, didn't like it. Even with input from a trial-run at Olympia and advice from another school like Canandaigua, we think that somehow "this is different"
To an outsider, this seems like an attempt to justify a policy that didn't work before but might get a better sports team on the field. I think we should be preparing our students for a more important task. 7/17/2008 9:42 AM

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Open Forum ...

Pick any topic.

Rant or Rave about it :)

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Socio-Economics? Inattentive Parents?

Or Could It Be That Today's Students And Lower Test Scores Are Part Of A Dumber Generation "Stupified" By The Digital Age?

Story

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Email Theory Explains BOE Attorney Changes

SCATS:
Here is my theory on the law firm change. Current law firm does not want to release the Barry report. They have been able to keep it confidential because of the Mary Donlon case. Rightly so, it should and has to remain confidential until the case is settled.

The big question is what happens after the case is settled? It will be a public document. The current law firm Harter, Secrest wants and advises the board to keep the report confidential forever. The Harris Beach Firm says after the Donlon case it should be made public. Interesting. Why the different opinions? Each firm can make a strong case with legal basis for their opinion.

My theory is that the Barry report is not nearly as damaging as most people think against Meg Keller-Cogan. Harter, Secrest acted on the wishes of HMO and the Ken Walsh BOE and made a case to support the BOE majority position. There are current people on the BOE right now that want Meg back. So...publish the Barry report. Show how she was "Wronged" by HMO and bring the Queen back to save Greece Central.

The Queen is already, surprise, in trouble in her current district. Two BOE members were elected that are not in her camp. When the Donlon case is over current Supt. Steve will be close to his 30 years tier 2 retirement and on his way out. If the Queen is ever hired back think of the power she would have. Think of the fear that would return to the teaching, admin, support staff.

Just a theory

(Anonymity was requested by the letter's author.)

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Code Of Conduct Changes Elicit No Public Interest

"But no one spoke at Tuesday’s public hearing. Board members Carolyn Hauer and Gale O’Toole said they were disappointed the hearing was scheduled a few days after a holiday weekend and a couple months after the issue was last discussed, which was April 1. Parent, staff and student input are critical, they said." ~~ MPNNow

SCATS Wonders ... Could this possibly be because the Public Hearing was scheduled for 7PM but not held until 8:30PM ?? Did the BOE really want to hear from the community when they had a speaker signed up & waiting for so long?? Or maybe they just didn't want to hear from Joe Moscato, the speaker who was signed up but left before 8:30PM?

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

BOE Elects Julia Prez; Patrick VP

Following the oaths of officers, the BOE went to executive session to discuss the Supt.'s contract and appointment of legal counsel.

Will someone kindly tell Julia she forgot to call the meeting to order BEFORE going to a closed door session?

DEJA VU: Wayne Van der Byl and Harris, Beach appointed GCSD legal counsel

Friday, July 04, 2008

Re-Organizational Meeting & Public Hearing Tuesday @ 6:30PM

Re-Organizational Meeting Agenda:
Oath of Office - Newly Elected Board Members - Ms. Armstrong
Election of Officers - President - Ms. Armstrong
Election of Officers - Vice-President - Ms. Armstrong
Oath of Office - Newly Elected Board Officers - Ms. Armstrong
Policies - Board President
Regular Meeting Dates, Times and Location - Board President
Signing of Board Member Expections - Board President
Adjournment of the Re-Organizational Meeting - Board President


Public Hearing: Code of Conduct ~~ 7PM

Regular Meeting Agenda Items Include:
EXCEL Project Update
State Assessment Results
Contract for Excellence Update

Second Read Policy 7640 Student Individual Education Program (IEP
Second Read Policy 7421 Academic Eligibility for Participation in Interscholastic Athletics (W/A)
Second Read Policy 5580 Whistle Blowing Policy (W/A)
Second Read Policy 3510 Emergency Closing (W/A)
Second Read Policy 8261 Title I Parent Involvement (W/A)
First Read - Policy 7410 ??


Board Retreat - Ms. VanOrman


Thursday, July 03, 2008

History Repeating Itself In Greece?

Anonymous said...
Next Tuesday night, the arrogance of your new, but Boily controlled school board, will deliver a slap in the face to this community by rehiring the law firm of Jim Spitz (Walts' buddy) of Harris, Beach as attorneys for this district.

Walts owned this law firm. They structured his lifetime health care package, they assisted in the unfair treatment of our teachers resulting in upheld discrimination charges, according to the auditors, they contributed to the waste and abuse of tax dollars, and these are just a few of their Walts-friendly advice.

When they do this on Tuesday, with the exception of firing Achromovitch and rehiring Keller-Cogan, the Boily board will have succeeded in their only purpose since the politicians bought them their seats on the board, i.e., turning around all the positive changes made by HMO and the 2005-2006 board. Make no mistake, there are several members of this board who would eagerly rehire the Queen of Mean back in a minute.

HOWS THIS FOR IN YOUR FACE! We owe Phelan an apology considering the operating technique of Mr. Arrogance himself, Back-Room Boily. 7/03/2008 4:12 PM

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Members Sought By Newly Formed Citizens Group

Greece Citizens in Action, a new citizens group, is looking for residents interested in joining.

The goal, according to organizers, is to get more citizens involved in addressing issues and presenting a positive image of the town, while improving its quality of life.

For more information, contact P.O. Box 3177 Latta Road, Rochester, NY 14612.