Thursday December 12, 2013
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Last night I had the opportunity to watch the Superintendent and members of the Board make a decision regarding a plan by Ms. Van Zile, newly appointed Principal of PHS,to not hire an Assistant Principal for one year and to alter the position of Athletic Director. Ms. Van Zile was present to argue for her plan . The plan must have had the support of Mr. Obrien or she would not have been present. After comments from visitors, the Board and Mr. Obrien asked questions and discussed the plan. The comments from 3 of the 5 Board members appeared to center on supporting Ms. Van Zile. Other than Mr. Huff stating that he was pleased to see that the money saved would save two teacher positions, I heard no discussions from 3 of 5 Board members about how the plan would positively or negatively affect student discipline process, student learning in the classrooms, staff work load, staff morale, or measured performances by students. Other potential pitfalls such as Ms. Van Zile's time to interact with the community, curriculum development, staff training, and so forth, were not discussed. Unfortunately and painfully, I have come to expect sub-par decision making by the three bobble-heads and sub-par leadership by Mr. Obrien but the potential risks in this plan could so easily been avoided by immediately hiring an Assistant Principal and a part-time Athletic Director instead of waiting one year. Many bad things could happen in one year and it could take several years for PHS to recover. To Ms. Van Zile I say, "Watch what you wish for; you may get it". No spanking- new Principal should be in the place that the plan creates. As to Mr. Obrien, he is leaving and will not find the need to deal with potential problems caused by the plan. I have never heard of such an organizational plan in a high school and probably for good reasons that involve prudence and common practices. Speed of student discipline, community contacts, staff supervision, staff development, and other areas could easily be affected negatively. In addition to Ms. Van Zile, who will feel adverse reactions in the plan results are less than optimum? Staff, students and the community. It's another slap at PHS.
Very strange. A 3 to 2 vote in favor. Sounds fishy since two of the three that voted in favor of it opposed the idea as of last week. Altruistic Act? Uh huh and the band plays on.
The idea is poorly conceived and certainly sets the staff, students and parents to not be fully supported. This is especially true in consideration of the new law relative to teacher evaluation which requires a great deal more time and includes a student achievement component. I just returned from the training. In consideration of the fact that she was evaluating one teacher who was RIF'd in April during the last week of school, it tells you, as a single principal, her staff is in big trouble.
I have high regard for Mrs. Shepherd and Mr. Pound who both realized the fallacies and stood their ground. Mrs. Shepherd was particularly comforting in saying she would vote no when there was a little bit of sniveling (if you can imagine a principal doing that in front of a school board). The others waffled and obviously did not think through the potential ramifications.
Oh well. The principal now has what she wanted. And of course, when you are the Principal, the buck stops with you - no excuses.
By the way, I think the question of the week is humorous. How about running everything by survey instead of experience and expertise? Question of the week: Do you think the Roundup reporters should run everything by the people they are writing about before they publish?
Either recall the school board or quit complaining.
It isn't only the HS that is getting the shaft. Check into the grade schools and see what goes on there.
For months I have been posting critical remarks regarding the School Board and the Superintendent. I have been questioning myself as to why I so often heartily disagree with actions of the Board/Administration. After observing the Board meeting on Tuesday and listening to remarks made by the Superintendent and the Board, a thought came to mind. I will present it as a hypothesis because no person can fully understand the motivations of relative strangers. Mr. Obrien is responding to stimulii by screening it through a view of educational structure that is "Micro" and not "Macro . If educational systems are viewed as organizations that have structural and organizational patterns that interlock and are interdependent, you have a "Macro" model. in a "Macro" view if one impacts one sector of the organization , ripples spread outward and impact other sectors in positive, negative or neutral manners. A "Micro" view leads to decisions and actions that are thought to be limited in scope and not affecting other parts of the organizational structure when in fact they do impact other areas. The personnel decisions made by the Superintendent and the Board could fit into the "Micro" view of the educationa model. Decisions can become particularized and personalized without understanding of how those decisions impact the employees and participants in the system at large. This model would explain some decisions including the firing of PHS administrators two years ago. In considering this hypothesis I must give certain members of the Board a small break. Citizens elected to serve on the Board are not educational experts. In my view it is the task of the Superintendent to see that the Board members are tutored in those things that are relative to the Board. That would include laws affecting the actions of a School Board, general policies and regulations governing the operations of schools and school districts, common and best practices in education and schools, procedures within the school district, interpreting information and data about the school community and students, and more. If a Superintendent is lacking in ability to properly inform and "counsel" the Board members, or is holding a picture of organizational structure that is partial or wholly flawed the Board will receive flawed information. If Board members are lacking in knowledge of school system models, and lacking in previously learned information relevant to making a certain decision, and lacking in leadership/teaching by the Superintendent the results will likely be inferior. Even with the hypothetical model in mind, I do not give 3 members of the Board a free ride. Some of the decisions made betray a lack of good sense. All of this being said, we are still stuck with one big problem - how does Payson acquire leadership and Board members who deserve the respect that those positions should have?
Pat; "Either recall the school board or quit complaining." This remark was not well thought out. You should not think it is your place to advise me what to think or do.
I feel that Pat is justified in her remarks. Her remark was not addressed to you, so why take it personally? Many of us are observing the school board actions, and we need to comment.
My remark was not to you alone. I was writing to everyone, my self included. Sorry if I offended you.
Now this question is for you, If the superintendent is supposed to inform the board what to do, and how to do it, why do we need a school board? Maybe I didn't understand what you were saying.
The simple answer Pat, is school board is required by Arizona Revised Statute. I am in someways thinking that the question was rhetorical and probably doesn't need a response since realistically why would we need a board? Just a rubber stamp with decisions that are decided upon prior to any meeting. :)
Aren't they decided by the superintendent? Someone said he/she is supposed to properly inform and councel the board.
From what I have been reading the tail is wagging the dog. (:
School board and superintendent relationship are supposed to be similar to town manager and town council relationship. Department heads or town council members or town manager propose items through town manager for agenda. Site Administrators or board members or district administrators through superintendent propose items for agenda. Town council votes on items. School board votes on items. In Payson's school board case, it has been recent practice for superintendent to meet with individual board members prior to meeting so he knows what to expect and what and how members will vote on items. That sort of defeats the purpose of open meetings when most decisions have already been made prior to the meeting.
Tail wagging the dog on both of your comments, town and school.
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