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on Jul 2, 2013
I always thought the Superintendent was supposed to be the district's communication coordinator...
How silly of me.
This is an outrageous, superfluous WASTE of our money. Next time I hear the Superintendent begging for money for something I'll remember this farse. All the things this person is supposed to do are things the Superintendent should do routinely: be concise and clear about policy, do outreach, and listen to the community. "Communications coordinator": what a joke! I also blame the members of the Board of Education for approving spending about a fifth of a million dollars per year (in salary and benefits) on this sinecure.
Yes, Jim H., you are silly, because you don't (quite) go far enough. Skelly should not just be the communication coordinator and answer all the voluminous (and unnecessary) info requests, he should also be his own secretary, type his own speeches, do his own filing, and maybe, on his lunch hour, he could cook lunch for Paly several days a week.
Welcome to your job, some of your duties: babysit Skelly, Young, Katherine Baker and all the ones who messed up on their job positions at PAUSD. Believe me you will earn that money because they do messed up a lot. However, I wish that your salary was spend on our at risk children. I will vote no for parcel tax the next time.
To retired teacher.....no one expects the Superintendent to do the laundry list of tasks you describe. He already has paid help in place to do these things. To hire someone to speak for him at the salary and benefit package this employee will receive is OUTRAGEOUS [portion removed.]
I am more interested in learning who will fill the vacant positions at school sites. They are closer to our children. Given the district's "site-based" management practises, those posts matter a lot.
As a Palo Alto taxpayer, this is a good example of a waste of taxpayer money in the Palo Alto School District: the hiring of a PR person at $150K the benefits/year. Outrageous. "Communications Coordinator" - what a title. As someone stated, this waste of money comes to us courtesy of Kevin Skelly and the Board of Education. I object on two levels: the hiring, period AND the overblown salary/benefits. [Portion removed.]
Gee, 35 year resident, thanks for pointing out that my laundry list of tasks is just a trifle ABSURD. Just like your complaint that it's OUTRAGEOUS to hire someone to handle communication and voluminous information requests (for the district, not just for Skelly!). When a job becomes too big to be handled by staff, it's good management to put someone in place to handle it. Sounds like he made a good hire, too, at reasonable compensation. Good for him and the district.
Speaking as a 50 year resident of Palo Alto, I've been pleased with the district in the past, and I'm pleased with it now. I'm not so happy about illogic of many of these posts.
I've been out of the workforce for decades, but $150,000 salary for her position seems way too generous for a position which doesn't require more any 4-year English/History/Psych/Mass Comm./Journalism/Business, etc. degree. Seems like a position many people could fill, which should translate into lower pay.
[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
I've obviously won the residency contest, so on to my comments: this position did little to help Santa Clara Unified and it will do little to help Palo Alto Unified. The cause of so many public information requests is that Kevin Skelly has lost all trust from a growing number of long-time residents like me. This position, expensive as it is, will not help one at-risk child. It appears to only be there to protect Skelly, Charles Young, and Dana Tom. Skelly has often had Young deliver the "public information" but Young makes no impact on regaining the public trust. Dana Tom has not delivered in this area as well. The district office is packed with administrators who could handle the supposedly "voluminous" public records requests, especially since a new administrator of professional development was hired. [Portion removed.] This $150,000 would have been better spent paying Skelly to leave. That would be good for kids. This district needs real leaders and it needs to advertise it. It doesn't take higher salaries for principals or teachers, they are paid enough and we need to face the fact that some of our current teachers and principals are duds and got through the interview process. PAEA cannot say that, they have to live the lie that all teachers are equal, despite the fact that step and column ensures undeserved raises based on years served. PAEA's Teri Baldwin should approach the dais at the next board meeting and ask for more money for teachers. Gas prices are rising! Wait, I might have jinxed us because we have money to burn, apparently. New administrators, a new spokesperson, how much worse can it get? And remember, my comments carry more weight than everyone else's because I have been here longer.
100 year resident: :)
"I'll do a lot of outreach and listening to make sure everybody's clear on the various efforts," she said Monday night. "As much as I can help the administrative team do that, it will be a good service."
If this is accurately reported, it doesn't say much for her extemporaneous speaking skills. Vague language, buzzwords, and awkward phrasing can be had for less money.
100 Year PA Resident, maybe all you've won is the tall tale contest, even if you are just 35 year resident posting under a different name. I'm afraid you're not winning the logic contest, though. The information requests ARE voluminous, and they don't come from the majority of Palo Alto voters. They come from the Weekly and a small group of shrill critics who want to win by harassment what they can't win at the ballot box.
Your reasoning process is fascinating: PAUSD supposedly has a number of teachers and principals that are "duds," but we should gut the professional development person's job so these so-called "duds" never have a chance to improve! Pardon my disbelief, but I've heard that professional development in the district is quite good, and so is the selection process for teachers.
I wish you had learned to think more clearly in your 100 (or 35) years in Palo Alto.
Thank you for the smiley emoticon. I think if more of us long-time residents included them in our posts, we'd be as happy as that small group of people who just love how Kevin Skelly, Charles Young, Dana Tom, et al are running our fine district. We'd also be less likely to TYPE OUR ASSERTIONS IN CAPITAL LETTERS. Perhaps a few exclamation points would add to the drama, what it won't do is make an assertion that the number of public records requests are voluminous or not. Last I checked, and I just checked, the use of voluminous is an opinion. As for professional development, that is part of the duties of most of the administrators at 25 Churchill. Check their job descriptions, it's in there. That's great that some have heard that professional development is quite good, that means we didn't need to add another overpaid administrator to focus just on professional development. However, if we had such good professional development, then why did our system break down so easily when it came to OCR and all the failed steps before the complaints were made? Didn't the administrators have special ed training from the lawyers just three or so years ago? I was told by a current administrator that they did. You see, when you have lived in this town for as long as I have, you tend to be incredulous of anyone saying trust me, believe me, or making any other assertion about how great PAUSD's hiring process is. Don't put the teachers in a separate category, our systems are inefficient and ineffective, the district is not operating anywhere near a level of excellence.
Funny, 100 Year Resident, that small group of people you referred to as Skelly/Young/Tom supporters did NOT choose to elect the school board candidate that represented your negative viewpoint. (So sorry you don't like upper case letters; take that issue up with 35 year resident, if you're not one and the same person.) Perhaps the people who like Skelly, Young, and Tom are more numerous than you're willing to admit.
Did you really have to check that the word "voluminous" is an opinion word? Most people would know that already. In this case, it's a word which accurately describes the quantity of requests that have besieged the PAUSD. I suspect the communications coordinator will also have to deal with the questionable logic of the small but vociferous group of dyed-in-the-wool critics. There's plenty of work for her to do; I'm glad the district hired her.
As for the OCR and its issues, its novel legal theories have not yet been tested in a court of law. The district has responded, and responded effectively, to the pertinent issues raised in its reports. You critics, however, have not been as responsible; you use any excuse to attack the district, its staff, teachers, and administrators with exaggerated claims and loaded words.
Funny, 100 year resident, I don't remember saying "trust me" in any of my posts. Are you asking me trust that you've lived in PA for 100 years? Or that your opinion is better supported than mine? Alas, I find it difficult to trust your statements or your opinions. I do trust my own kids' experiences in the district, and the experiences of the many people I talk to with kids currently in the schools.
Enjoy your emoticons.
Whether or not the district has done a good job responding to the OCR inquiry is an empirical question, the answer to which is given by the same PRAs that Retired Teacher is complaining about. Reading through the correspondence between OCR and the district 2 things are evident:
1. The district has fought very hard (and lost) on whether or not it can have a site-based process for resolving claims of discrimination including discriminatory harassment and bullying. The answer is "no." But in order to get there we have been through 2 lawyers (Laurie Reynolds and now Dora Dome) and we several lawyers of OCR lawyers. At this time the acting chief lawyer for the west coast OCR is personally enforcing the law on PAUSD, and has had to rewrite more than half a dozen PAUSD policies. This insistence on site-based control and a very customized set of policies is what has caused the process to bottleneck. At this point, the OCR regional chief is herself rewriting PAUSD's policies basically to get this over with.
What we ended up with is exactly what Ken Dauber, his wife the law professor, and many others told them that they had to do in the first place, and they could have had that advice for free -- without paying Laurie Reynolds or Dora Dome taxpayer dollars for it. Sadly, that was all just deadweight loss in the tens and perhaps hundreds of thousands of dollars.
2. PAUSD has adopted a culture of secrecy and a severe bunker mentality. Were it not for the Weekly's Terri Lobdell's very dogged pursuit of the truth in this matter we would know absolutely nothing. Thank goodness for our local paper chasing down these documents and facts. And thank goodness for our federal agencies enforcing civil rights laws.
The promotion of Katherine Baker should, for the PAUSD public, be the straw that broke the camel's back. But this board is going to praise her and ratify it [portion removed] and PAUSD will continue to lurch from crisis to crisis.
I suspect that the reason that you are seeing so many cynical and bitter comments in this space is that people are just absolutely dumbfounded that he promoted her after all this. It seems like such a giant middle finger to the community that people are in a bit of shock and also feeling somewhat hopeless about the prospect for change.
Real change is only going to come when the city "leaders" stop being cowards and man up and say that we need a new board and new leadership. Unless that happens, we will have the status quo, which seems to be working fine. Just look at our test scores and real estate values.*
*some restrictions apply. May not apply to rape victims, the disabled, or minority students.
Congratulations and welcome!
I'm sure you'll do a great job.
I am not clear about the sequence of events that had the PR coordinator hired. Last I remember - the position was put on hold. However, I must admit - I was not following closely.
I am addressing those who think that I (and others) are criticizing PAUSD for some weird hobby we have developed. I am suggesting to consider the possibility that we do care dearly about all the children, and that each us have some supporting evidence to have us think that - something is not working right (quite an understatement).
At this point I think that those who lost trust will not regain any because of the new position. On the contrary - I am pretty sure I am not the only one to wonder if some of the new system supporting postings on these threads are not part of some paid PR campaign.
As to the PR position - I found the following in one of the documents that were released after the weekly exercised the Brown Act. The following, Superintend quote, is from 02/11, prior to the significant (or any other adjective you want to use) "wave" of public record requests:
"..The discussion at St. Marks Church was unpleasant, and I don’t think productive. In hindsight, I can see some things we could or should have done better, but I think the deck was stacked against us. I am going to sit down soon with Tim Dyson, a CEO of a PR company, to seek his wisdom on how we can better address the clear frustration some people have with our work. " 02/11
I posted the above quote along few others here (Web Link). I am copying also the following - it seems to me to that this one adds up perfectly to my understanding of PAUSD modus vivendi and perspective of the community:
"They need to make the decision, and he firmly believes the community will accept the decision and move on. This seems accurate and it reflects what has happened on other issues, like MI. It seems to me that when the board makes a decision and moves forward, the rest of the community will accept the decision and move forward. I guess this is a long way of saying, if we lead, the community will follow"...10/2010
The words used in comments from Can't Top That are revealing:
"I suspect that the reason that you are seeing so many cynical and bitter comments in this space is that people are just absolutely dumbfounded that he promoted her after all this."
The cynical and bitter comments started way before this recent event. The issues were worthy of discussion, but not of vitriolic attacks on an outstanding school district. (Full disclosure: I taught in a neighboring school district, not this one, but my experience as an observer of the PAUSD goes back 50 years.) The lack of public support for these district critics was reflected in the Board election, even though the Weekly endorsed Ken Dauber and he campaigned vigorously. The OCR involvement gives these unsuccessful critics another excuse to continue trying to gain by intimidation and harassment what they couldn't win in the election.
Village Fool wonders if the positive comments are part of a paid PR campaign. Goodness, any PR firm that pays people to post on these threads ought to be fired for incompetence. But some of us don't like to see bullying in the schools and we don't like it in these posts either. Village Fool does post quotes--it's helpful to have some facts to work with--but his or her interpretation of them is questionable. Looks to me like Skelly wanted to find ways to communicate with his critics, and that's a good thing. As for following the board decisions, that's what we recently elected the board to do, make decisions. And I think they've made good decisions, which I feel comfortable following.
You can apply the same argument to the calendar debacle.
Effectively your comment comes down to:
- If I agree with what the board does, then they are doing the right thing.
- If I disagree with the board then the board should be recalled, principals removed, district staff fired, donations to PiE stop and PTAs disbanded.
Your above comment pretty much bears this out: "...I am not the only one to wonder if some of the new system supporting postings on these threads are not part of some paid PR campaign." This can be paraphrased to: "There is a sinister aspect behind any post which I don't agree with".
I’m sure glad I never had Retired Teacher as my teacher. No sense of humor. Equates justified criticism to “vitriolic attacks” and considers anyone posting a negative comment to be “bullying.”
He/She says, “The information requests ARE voluminous, and they don't come from the majority of Palo Alto voters. They come from the Weekly and a small group of shrill critics who want to win by harassment what they can't win at the ballot box.”
Shame on the Weekly and those few “shrill critics” for requesting information about the school district and the kids. I guess wanting to know what my tax dollars pay for is “harassment.”
Too bad Retired Teacher doesn’t believe in open government and transparency.
Well, pat, I would have welcomed you into my class, although my lack of a sense of humor might have handicapped me in dealing with your snap judgments. Perhaps I could even have taught you the difference between fair criticism and vitriolic attacks, and the difference between negative comments and bullying.
There is a difference between requesting a reasonable amount of information about the school district and the kids, and demanding vast amounts of information under a pretty tight deadline from a district which has been operating under budget restraints for years. To suggest that someone who objects to harassment is against open government and transparency is quite an illogical leap.
@Retired Teacher and confused - Let me state that I care, and that I am not a member of any local group (although I do not think that my group affiliation is relevant to this discussion).
I have posted my comment, above, to which you responded preceded by the following here (Web Link):
Dear Mr Dauber - I have addressed you here more than three months ago after I realized that I lost trust. I did not believe that an independent investigation - promised by few PAUSD board members - was about to happen. I was hoping to be proved wrong. Unfortunately - I was not. Unfortunately - all the actions of PAUSD (actions of which I am aware) just added to my initial perspective of cover up, my perspective that the well being of all the children is not top priority, my perspective that even when talking about $ - public funds could be better spent and produce better results. All resulting, so I believe, from the law of the land - the atmosphere, culture.
Sandra Pearson, former Paly principal and an acclaimed past PAUSD official, wrote to PAUSD board regarding the new communication PR position. Her letter was published here - (Web Link). I have posted the following in the thread dealing with the new PR appointed position here.
I have addressed - Dear Student - twice, here (Web Link).
I invite you to read my comments bearing in mind my disclaimers, above.
I also invite you to think of children growing up in a place where not identifying with the majority, where asking questions have me, a group, anyone, stereotyped as - toxic.
Retired Teacher: We would certainly have clashed on vocabulary if I were in your class. And we would have had an interesting debate on the California Public Records Act:
“An agency has 10 days to decide if copies will be provided. In "unusual" cases (request is "voluminous," seeks records held off-site, OR requires consultation with other agencies), the agency may, upon written notice to the requesters, give itself an additional 14 days to respond. (§ 6253(c)) These time periods may not be used solely to delay access to the records. (§ 6253(d))”
How hard can it be to provide documents to anyone seeking information -- assuming the agency keeps well-organized records?
Requesting information, in any amount, is hardly harassment.
Pat: Clashed on vocabulary? Perhaps you meant diction, the correct word for the context. It's true, I should have used the word " budget constraints" rather than "budget restraints." That's a diction error. If that's what you're referring to, thank you for bringing it up, however indirectly.
Record requests to the PAUSD were both voluminous and ongoing. That's going to impact the district whether or not it takes an extension. Combine the extra workload with the vitriolic attacks and there's even more interference with the district's job of teaching kids.
RT: Cool! We could also discuss diction and vocabulary. :-)
Perhaps we could come up with other options besides "vitriolic," which seems excessive for describing the criticisms in these posts.
> Record requests to the PAUSD were both voluminous and ongoing.
In preparing to respond to this point, I reviewed the PAUSD PIR (Public Information Request) web-page:
(By the way---very few public agencies have offered the public as nice a presentation of the PIRs, as well as general access to the material as this PASUD approach.)
It seems that this page has been updated with more requests than last time I looked, just a few weeks ago. One thing missing from this presentation, is the staff time required to fulfill the requests. There is no reason that the number of hours (<=1, <=5. <=10, etc.) should not be provided to the public.
What bothers me about this matter is that a lot of this informaton should be simply made public as a matter of course. I noticed that someone had asked for the grade distribution of some of the schools:
Data on a per-course basis on grade distribution, including but not limited to Ds and Fs awarded to Black and Latino students.
- Enrollment statistics for Black and Latino students in Honors or AP courses.
I have been wanting this data for a long time, and never thought to ask for it. What I want the PAUSD to do is simple output this data onto a Google/Drive directory at the end of every semester, and make a note of it in a table-of-contents for the directory. This sort of aggregation is not hard for the computer to do, and outputting the data in .xls(x) (or .csv) format is straightforward.
We run into a problem with education "professionals" who do not have any training in IT, and who also have been brought up under some belief system that the public really doesn't have a right to know about these sorts of matters. Of course the public has a right to know, and IT makes it easy to make this sort of information readily available.
It's my claim that if the PAUSD IT department were charged with making this sort of data available on an on-going basis, there would be far less need for individuals to spend staff time doing what the computer can do in a heartbeat.
If all of the District's non-confidential documents were put into a "cloud drive", fully indexed (google-style) and a decent table of contents added--most of the requests on this PIR page would be simply available on the PAUSD's "cloud drive".
The Superintendent, and the BoT, should be able to see that this is true--even if rank-and-file staff might not.
It's for this reason that I oppose hiring this person. I doubt that she will be able to do what the IT staff can do--and will not be of much value automating the access to PAUSD Public Information Requests/Develivery.
I'm pretty good in mathematics, ok? I may not have writing skills nor journalism. I think in terms of statistics. Stanford is the most unfriendly university I this earth: up with advanced statistic 2x driving around seeing nobsdy on campus except empty buildings and security guard . Some people, like myself are not on line sign up, though we know what we are talking about. We are too smart to fit within the normal curve,ok? Scatterd punts count too , don't care what anyone else says. [Portion removed.]
What a disappointing waste of money.
I've heard from friends in Santa Clara that this person left the district for political reasons. I've heard she was very involved in the campaign against one of the school board members. Or was she hired for this type of experience?
That district has had a number of scandals in recent years--the grand jury report was just one. There was a principal alleged to have been dealing meth, a janitor recruiting girls for a "modeling agency", an audit by the county which uncovered fraud.
I wish the district would worry less about PR and more about students.
@PA Teacher: I couldn't agree with you more!!
Ken Dauber was dealt a"raw deal" by the "PA Establishment" and I wouldn't be surprised if this new PR person was awarded the spoils of the victors(the 2 elected school board members).
What a disgraceful and dirty campaign this was. I know that many people in Palo Alto now wish that they had been fully informed about the scandals and the Skellytons (Mandy Lowell and Munger Money) that The Dr. Kevin Skelly, PhD had concealed from all of us. I wouldn't be surprised to hear that one or more of the Board members (not the new one but one of the very old ones hint hint) knew about Kevin's missteps. What a disgrace this whole thing is!
PR, SCHMEE R......when are John and Jane Q. Public in Palo Alto gonna wake up and smell the Voodoo Lillies? Enough is Enough. Skelly has to go and this PR job can go with him. There are so many things that this money could be spent on that would actually help our kids. I do not consider Kevin one of our kids thought sometimes I wonder! We can't afford to keep Kevin on our payroll. Without Kevin there is no need for "damage control". PAUSD legal expenses (which have been steadily on the upswing recently) would lessen dramatically with a regime change as well.
Dr. Skelly: Quit stonewalling!! You should seek employment elsewhere now please before the people of Palo Alto boot you out! I think that you are smart enough to see the handwriting on the wall.
Good luck to Palo Alto school district, you're going to need it! Seems you didn't get an honest through reference check. Like asking the Board if they would hire her back ... The answer would have been a resource ding NO WAY!
SCUSD is happy to be rid of her ... And for you are going to pay her .., you have been ripped off
@spectator at large - more than a month ago I responded to your posting mentioning - dirty politics - saying that I think that: "..The stories you heard about dirty politics, if true, can not be water under the bridge. Those tactics, if true, did not come out of nowhere. It seems to me that there is a culture and atmosphere that enable these occurrences, public education system. I think that systemic issues do not stop "there", and take very long time to build..." link - (Web Link). Unfortunately, so it seems, circumstances caused you to agree that those occurrences did not come out of nowhere. Unfortunately, because I would have hoped that it is possible that those dirty politics could be a singular occurrence. But those occurrences, if true, are possible/can thrive only in an atmosphere that marginalize those who do not conform with the majority. You asked, above, about the coverage of those dirty politics - I totally agree, and I'm taking this opportunity to say that I am confused by the editing, censoring(???), considerations manifested recently. I am confused, since when the Weekly published the first OCR case accompanied by an excellent editorial, followed up by spin follow up, it seemed to me that the Weekly have stepped to the "big kids" playground.
The link I provided, above, where we discussed the dirty politics is an excellent example for my confusion- it is about Summer school fees - an issue that was brought to the public attention by Curious. While one can argue about the details, or about the importance of the content - I doubt anyone can argue about the need to expose issues to the public, or just enabling writing opinions, not to mention understanding the - iceberg - which was mentioned in the excellent editorial dealing with the education system. Unfortunately, the time frame of the thread linked above presented the most apparent manifestations of the editorial confusing actions. All the threads that dealt with controversial issues were made available only to those who are logged in, thus halting the discussion.
I have responded, above, to writings which I happened to see, coincidentally, prior to being removed by the editor. I found those important - it is important to know what is going on. I had an "aha moment" here (Web Link) when I saw parts written by "Palo Alto Native" prior to being removed. The part removed had the word - hate. "Aha moment" for me since I was did not know that my criticism can be seen as hatred - I responded to that. I think it is important to know what is going on, if for no other reason but having the opportunity to respond to "Native Palo Alto", and try to present my perspective of a cultural difference, and say that there is no hatred behind my criticism. I am pretty sure that if "Native Palo Alto" and me would have met - I would have been heard, and that I would have tried to listen. There is no way to communicate when parts are removed - knowledge is power, for all. Without mentioning, again - the Iceberg.
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