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Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Guillotine is Rolled Out For Greeley Schools District 6

Greeley's District 6 Administration and Board are in the process of organizing spring cleaning. Schools are being scheduled to be shut. Cameron will see its head roll. Jefferson is being merged. Just what that means I am not certain. It appears to mean that all the alternative students and "problems" will be stuffed into one school. Cuts are coming, to the best of my knowledge, to every area except the top run of administrators and to the middle-class white schools like Christa McAuliffe Elementary.

The kids who need the most attention, require specialized help, are lower performers in general, some from homes with fewer resources--rounded up and stuffed into one facility. What could go wrong? The newest teachers in, with the freshest skill set, may be the first out.

In the meantime it isn't clear how extensive operational cuts will be. The Operations Manager has been busy making recommendations and it appears the board is following his lead regardless of the impact on the quality of learning. Still no public appearance by Ms. Lang and her $200 thousand plus a year income.

Teachers have, or were, wearing black shirts to represent the day the Board enforced a contract upon them.
The local teachers union appears to be either overwhelmed or under performing. The mainstream media isn't covering it from a teacher's angle. The concept that the Union has been broken by the Board certainly is real from my own perspective. The public isn't likely to come to the side of the teachers when they have just dumped the plea for more public funds down the drain. And Greeley citizens as a whole do not seem willing to put pressure on the administration to make cuts across the board rather than to focus on some demographics that are not popular.

In general, it is pretty clear that the youth of Greeley are not a priority for the taxpayers. And, in my opinion, it is pretty clear that the Board, Ms. Lang, and Mr. Eads are using the opportunity to clean house. Heads on the chopping block will be the newly hired, political enemies, and any job where a highly skilled person is drawing a realistic salary and can be replaced by a common "Joe".

Of course the State is demanding cuts and probably demanding that a plan be developed and submitted to the State. Mr. Ritter, a pseudo-Democrat, is focused on the Republican agenda for the State budget even though he has decided not to be elected. We can only hope that someone will be reviewing this plan that has the guts to stand up for what is best for the education of the students.

You don't have to be a genius to figure out that if the State removes a million dollars or more from the local budget that it would serve to take out jobs which reduce incoming taxes even further which grows the problem instead of helping resolution. In the meantime while expenditures are being reduced the number of students requiring an education doesn't change. They are all still there at the doors waiting for their opportunity to enter the adult world workforce with a half-baked education and compete with other communities for real wage paying jobs.

All in all it is depressing. The future of Greeley has just been flushed down the toilet and the public doesn't seem too distressed or too informed. I think it is time to call in the State. It is time for parents to go sit outside the Governor's door. It is time to take the students along too and show them the political process and how it works when the government doesn't pay attention to the needs of the future and/or is willing to force certain segments of the population, without as much political power, to bare the brunt of poor ideology, planning, and the cuts that are the natural consequence thereof. The Greeley District 6 Administration and Board is obviously not up to the task, overwhelmed, and willing to make cuts not in the best interest of education but in the best interests of what an Operations Manager recommends. The top level administrator isn't willing to face the public or the bulk of the district's employees. The cuts have already been politicized and are likely to continue in that direction.

Just where is Ms. Lang the District Superintendent? Doesn't the public deserve to meet her face to face and have her explain her reasoning and position. After all Ms. Lang, so it seems, will be retaining her job and her contract. Shouldn't Ms. Lang have to look the teachers, staff, and operations people in the face and explain to them why they have been selected to have their careers pulled out from under them? Ms. Lang should earn those big bucks and take on the big responsibilities--regardless of how hard they may be.

The one advantage, in all this mess, possible is that the people, to the best of my knowledge, who have been hired in the past for low wages based on ideology without the appropriate skills for the job, advanced on the basis of politics rather than educational best interests, could be forced to leave. The "good-old-boy network" could be dissembled in mass firings and rehirings only, unfortunately, the "good-old-boys" are doing the firing and rehiring.

Hence the call for the State to step in.

So the picture I paint here isn't pretty. The subject isn't getting the media and public coverage it deserves. The local fish-wrap is just an extended arm of the public relations sector of the District. Of course to be fair there isn't a good solution to be had and times are tough. But the cuts and changes are being driven less by the best interests of education than by political interests and naive extremist chopping block-watch-the-heads-roll maneuvering. That, or it is being driven by sheer panic and a lack of consensus on what to do. These administrators are over their heads and don't have the skills to deal with the situation in a fair and objective way. Special hires need to be made who have the background skills and objectivity for educational purposes.

Hence the call for the State to step in, again.

Which all leads me back to the supposition, how many times can I say it, it is time for the State to come in and take over the management of Greeley Colorado's infamous District 6. For the sake of the students, the classes in Greeley without political power, the future of Greeley itself, and also for the sake of the taxpayers. Somebody needs to do the real job, the whole job, and do it with the least politics and the maximum professionalism.

And where is Ms. Lang?

Comments :

9 comments to “The Guillotine is Rolled Out For Greeley Schools District 6”

Anonymous said...


Jane Paudaux said...

Elsa's comment translated: Personal fortunes in the first is always the most profound, and sometimes even into the hearts of people forever insulation

Cassie said...

With our Leadership Weld County program we had the opportunity to meet with and ask questions of the school board president and the superintendent. They were both obviously still in shock about the cuts because they didn't really say much. They said that retaining FTE was a top priority in one breath and in the next that personnel costs were the highest in the budget and that cuts would definitely occur.

They also had three teachers on the panel and when we asked how their morale was, they seemed ok. Maybe they didn't see their own jobs in jeopardy? It was a strange discussion because the district had just made the announcement about Jefferson/Maplewood/Franklin merge deal and the closing of Cameron. They said that Cameron and Jefferson were only half full and that is why they are combining those schools and making Maplewood an elementary again.

They did mention that they will probably try for another mill levy override in the future and that they believed it failed this time because 1) it was too expensive for most people --consider Britton and I who own 4 houses in the district with no kids, it would've cost us an additional $1000++ per year in taxes -quite a disincentive to owning properties here!-- 2) that there was no sunset on it, 3) there were still some questions of where exactly the money was going.

It is somewhat strange to me that only property owners would be paying for there a way that a sales tax or something that all of the community could pitch in for could work? I would vote 100% for a gas tax! We should tax and make more expensive the things in society we want less of (tobacco, gasoline, soda, junk food, etc) not what we want more of (people buying and fixing the dilapidated houses around here).

Anyway...they thought that if they decreased the amount, had a sunset clause and very specific allocations that it might pass in the future...we'll see. I think I personally would be more inclined to vote for it if it were either quite a bit less, not attached to properties and/or had an early sunset. But I do agree with you about the fact that it seems that education seems to take a back seat in this community.

Jane Paudaux said...

I thought long and hard about the above post. I have a lot of respect for good people with kind hearts and a good mind. I kind of figure that if they have thought a position out that works for them then who am I to try to convince them of my own viewpoint? I can only share my viewpoint in return. My understanding is that different states have different types of bonds, taxes, etc. that can be raised to help support schools. Where I came from previously a large bulk of the support in addition to government came from developer fees. These fees however were simply passed on to homeowners. Here, in Colorado, the funding is different but, again, it has been set by the voters or their elected officials. So the burden of how schools are funded still comes back to the voting public. As for the tax burden. From my view a person who owns multiple properties which, I assume, are not all being used as family dwellers is a commercial enterprise. So, in enhance, a share of that tax would be a commercial tax on your income assets. Additionally the increase in value that good education funding brings doesn't just come back to the students and their families. It comes back to the community in terms of raising the value of those four homes. Let me illustrate my point by a hypothetical (and a bit exaggerated example). Let's say that miraculously Greeley District 6 gets amazing funding and changes the Board and Top Administrative Staff. The District rises in ratings to #1 in the state. Those dilapidated old homes are now going to be purchased by families moving into the area to access better schooling for their children. They will be bought by more people like yourself as speculation. Fixed up and turned over they will produce not five thousand dollars in profit but twenty or thirty or fifty thousand dollars return on your labor of investment. Or, if rentals, as demand rises for housing by families trying to get into the district rents increase and, again, the investment in taxes you are paying will show a profit and gain. Additionally new businesses will open up to service the incoming community. New businesses new job opportunities, new cultural events, and new candidates to run for school board, city council, and other official positions. I guess what I am saying is that I can understand given your outlook why the issue was problematic. (Continued in next post... there is a limit here!)

Jane Paudaux said...

But I see it as more of a forced investment in your own good. I wouldn't like to be forced to pay either but then I didn't vote to choose the elected officials who made these policies in the first place. I haven't invested in a home in Greeley because I don't see much growth in Greeley's future. I'd rather buy a home in Fort Collins because my dollar will be worth more in twenty years there than it is worth if I put it into a Greeley home.

As far as what the Board has told you and other city leaders, well I wasn't there. The teachers I have spoken to weren't there and they are not only not happy--they are shopping their resumes around and leaving. The outlook you have described for closing schools and combining diverse groups of students is not in keeping with what others are describing nor predict what will be the results.

I have met with Board members and other school officials as well. My take on what they said isn't as important as what they didn't say, avoided saying, obscured, or just plain didn't know the answer to or understand how the system worked that I was talking or asking about.

Personally I think the Board and the Administrative Staff are good people who can do a fair job under good circumstances. I don't think though that is what they are being asked to do. They are being asked to do their jobs under poor and rapidly declining conditions with awful monetary circumstances. Simply put these people do not appear to have a professional skill basket capable of either building consensus on effective steps to take or of developing those effect steps to take--I don't know which is the case.

I believe the State needs to come in and appoint people with the right set of skills to fix District 6 before the students of Greeley have to pay a price that they will be paying for the greater share of their lives. Because it is pretty clear that the voters of Greeley aren't going to do much but keep in power the good old boy/girl network. And that good old boy/girl network is going to keep hiring in people with mediocre skills to do the critical jobs.

But no one really seems to care outside the Greeley area. After all property values are very low here. What's Greeley got to offer the state and the rest of Colorado? Low wage skilled labor? Low rents? Dilapidated housing? Investment is an advanced math principle. Checkbook math only goes so far in the bigger scheme of things. You can't run a city, a school district, or most businesses like you run your personal checkbook. Calculated risk is required.

Thank you for your thoughts and sharing openly. I learned a lot from your posting about why some voters didn't support the tax. It was certainly poorly timed and poorly marketed (sold) by the District. I'll agree to that. But it is needed and by the time it comes back on the ballot (hopefully a new board and administration will be present) it

mowdy5gs said...

I wonder if oil being speculated and found under the lets say, Cameron neigborhood plays any part in this inbred hillbilly politics of this town. I do not disagree that this town backseats education and likes its minorities stupid. Republicans run this town and Greeley is in the shape it is because of them period. Persons such as Amy Oliver, local 1310 radio host ACTIVELY campaignig against the intrerst of all children [mill levy] is mind blowing. All in the intrest of politics. To know that WHITE schools persay have no cuts comin is not shocking as Greeley IS rasist. As rasisit as I have ever seen a town be. And again I must point out that Republicans are responsible soley for Greeley, its budget, its, numbers, its non thriving buisness, its evacuation of buisness and climate over all. Minorities continue to be targeted and harrassed regularly, disporporionately prosecuted for the same crimes whites commit and I tell ya, that JAC office is something to be looked at when it comes to its minority VS. whites numbers, seeing as it has no real state or federal givin authority. Minorities are set up to fail in Greeely and are looked down upon and that is NO secret to anyone living here for more then a couple of months. Therefore expecting education to matter to these hillbilly wankers is asking WAAAAY to much.
mowdy like 5gs!

Cassie said...

Thanks Jane for your thoughtful analysis. I understand and agree with many of your points. For us though, the possible, hypothetical, future benefits couldn't outweigh the tangible, concrete financial pain we would feel now if we passed that tax increase.

If I didn't own property in Greeley I think it would be easier to support something like this. However, you can bet that if this had passed, rents all around the area would go up to offset the increase, but wages wouldn't. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. We need to make the best choices the easiest to make, not the other way around...IMHO. And for something like better education that benefits EVERYONE, EVERYONE -not just property owners- should help to promote it.

Jane Paudaux said...

Well the oil thing is new news to my ears but while I think the Board's policies are racist I do not necessarily believe the people on the Board think and design in racial tones--I don't know. America is a racist country and those of color have less political power, even with Obama in office, than those of color (on a whole--it is not meant to be a sweeping generalization). In the case of hard choices where no one wins those with the least political power will be the losers. In Greeley, even though many may not openly admit it, people of color has less political power--even though they are the majority presence (a situation which tends to boggle the mind). And the board is a good old boy network (even if it does have the female gender around) it isn't going to go after the status quo. It is going to take the path of least resistance and that means bucking those without a powerful voice. I don't think you can be raised in America, as a white person, and not be racist. That is what makes racism so insidious and hard to get rid of--it is embedded in our systems and our ways of thinking about things so it occurs without conscious application of racist policies. But once warned the board should be very careful of how they approach things and not burdened one segment of the community moreso than another. Just my two cents worth. The fact that Jefferson or another school is not full may be indicative of a school in a less desirable neighborhood that is already being starved of equal assets and attention. Middle-class parents move their children into better schools by shipping them across the city. A better school is a draw and the parents with the best resources and most political power respond--and those schools are rarely empty.

Jane Paudaux said...

And please Cassie keep posting your thoughts. I like to hear your viewpoints, when they agree with mine and/or disagree, and I respect your opinions and situations. It is helpful to construct better ideas that can bridge the divide between viewpoints or to give additional information that can help clear things up. I know it sounds disgustingly touchy-feely but it is also the reality of encouraging more productive discussions and policy making in the community.

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