Friday, March 11, 2011

Editorial: What has happened to Frank Oberg?

 
What has happened to Frank Oberg? This is a most perplexing question for me personally.

I first met Frank in early 2005. I had decided to run for the School board. It was suggested that I meet with Frank and Charlie Hubbard for the possibility of running as a slate. I agreed and we met. While we each had differing political views, we agreed that changes needed to take place on the School Board as well as within the District as a whole. I decided to join with them and we adopted the HMO theme.

Charlie Hubbard’s agenda was value based education as well as his well-known disdain for unions. To this day Charlie remains true to his convictions, without apology, very admirable in my opinion.

Frank Oberg was concerned with taxes, student performance and a champion of our music and arts programs that were alarmingly sub-standard when compared to other district programs. For three years Frank resisted any cuts to those programs, saying that music and art were an important part of the educational experience and that budget cuts should stay away from the classroom and, instead, should come from administration and our over-the-top busing costs.

That first year, 41 unneeded administrative positions were cut by our then interim Superintendent, Dr. Kehoe, who at the same time warned the board that unless we got our busing costs under control, future cuts would be painful and would reach the classroom. This was very prophetic on her part, but still ignored to this date.

So here we are with our children’s education being further eroded because of poor administration of tax dollars and lack of any oversight by our elected board and their inaction in cutting non-educational spending in other areas.

With this thought, I go back to my opening statement – What happened to Frank Oberg who was once a voracious advocate for music and arts programs and is now helping O’Rourke throw them “under the bus.” Why the change? I can only conclude that Frank’s position on these programs has been altered in some way, either by outside influences or other circumstances affecting his thought process.

Also troubling to me is his current position supporting the starting salary of $250,000 for our next superintendent. This is in stark contrast to his position expressed to me two years ago after the Achramovitch experience when the board majority hired him for $204,000. He stated then that our next superintendent’s salary range should be no more than $180,000 to $210,000 over three years and raises should be granted by performance standards and achievements. I totally agreed with that philosophy, the rationalization being that paying anyone short of Superman over $200,000 to start would attract mercenaries content to sit back, collect their $1,000 per diem with no incentive to correct the numerous problems confronting Greece Central.

I have lost confidence in Frank. I believe he has capitulated to those intent on stifling any change that would benefit our children’s education. Recently, Frank has expressed to me and others, and I quote, “You could throw 500 million dollars at this district and it wouldn’t change a thing.” To me, it sounded like he was raising the white flag. I couldn’t be more saddened by Frank’s current position.

Joe Moscato, Former Greece School Board Member

SCATS ~~ Re: “You could throw 500 million dollars at this district and it wouldn’t change a thing.”  Sadly, that rings true! It's NOT about money, it's about the people steering the sinking ship ;)

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Very well put Joe. I would love to hear Frank, in his own words, explain how he went from being dead set against school of choice to condoning it. Yes, when you don’t denounce such a ridiculous system at each and every meeting, you are condoning it. It reminds me just a little too much of Russell in his hay day, running under the cloak of one thing then jumping ship like a rat!

Anonymous said...

I agree in general with your comments about Frank. However, I do not believe music and arts are being gutted as some have said and you imply. Cut back, yes but so are other worthy programs. It is just necessary.

I do want my buddy Cuomo to get that superintendent salary cap in place pronto. I know it is not much money in terms of the budget, but it sure would set the tone as to what salaries should be at the lower levels.

Anonymous said...

Playing a little bit of devil's advocate, but....
Is it possible that once someone spends some time on the Board, they become more aware and understanding of the complexities of these issues? (much the same as Charlie Hubbard realized the intricacies of payroll and unions). Not that I am saying that there aren't HUGE issues with the district and BOE, but I think that myself (and many others on this blog and in public) can easily "armchair quarterback". Solving the issues, however, are not as easy as it might seem.
Just a thought...

SCATS said...

To 9:57AM ~~ If we were to do the things that really needed doing, like getting our transportation costs under control and bringing the number of schools into line with our enrollments, then we wouldn't need to be cutting art, music, library, sports, academics, etc. this year. The fact of the matter is SCHOOLS OF CHOICE HAVE OUTLIVED THE PROBLEM THEY WERE DESIGNED TO RESOLVE. Now, they create wasted space at wasted cost that hurts everyone.

SCATS said...

To 11:04AM ~~ Over the years I've known a number of both sitting as well as former BOE members quite well. While finding that some things might be more complex after getting in their, NONE OF THE ONES WHO CHANGED THEIR TUNE SO COMPLETELY AS FRANK OBERG HAS DONE EVER CLAIMED IT WAS BECAUSE IT WAS MORE COMPLEX THAN THEY ANTICIPATED.

Anonymous said...

11:04, or should I call you Frank, becoming more familiar with the complex issues should NEVER change what a person is about at his core. Unfortunatly, Frank has folded as a man. Much the same as Russell, Frank has become a laughing stock among people who follow the districts issues. What complexities could serving on the board possibly expose as it relates to school of choice? The only one that we all know of is the complx issue of saying to THE CHOSEN ONES that they no longer get their private education. Frank get a set of nuts and reclaim whats left of your reputation.

Anonymous said...

9:57 not gutted? If there is not 4th grade instrumental that means no kids starting band instruments, so then the following year there will be less to join band in a few years there will be no new kids so then there will be no band in 3-5 and subsequently no band after that as well.

And after the kids walking to art and special getting in and sitting down there will be approx 20-22 min of instruction. It is cutting or gutting no matter how you look at it. The cut were not equitable and basically sports ( NON CLASSROOM ITEMS) went untouched. We have great hockey football and soccer at least at AT so it is ok that ALL K-5 kids have less music art and library...test scores should sore now in the district where Student Learning is not the goal. This district only know how to use GOAL in one context sporting events.

SCATS said...

To 10:48AM ~~ How dare you say the hockey team is "great." Thunder lost yesterday and is out of the game. Time to eliminate them completely ;)

Anonymous said...

Music, instrumental music particularly, has been shown over and over again to improve math scores. Any kid can participate in band and orchestra... Varsity and JV sports should go before any music and art classes! A superintendent of a school district in this area can't live well on $180,000-200,000 - please, enough already! Has anyone in administration offered to take a pay cut or freeze? They did at the UR...