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Brown From: Carl P. Paladino Cc: Everybody Date: August 16, 2013 Re: Buffalo Board of Education, CPP Agenda of Issues and Motions for meeting of August 21, 2013
The following is Carl P. Paladino's continuing Agenda Index of new and repeated issue items, including motions, that I intend to make at the next meeting of the BOE. It is followed by the original agenda of items referred to committee. I request that the BOE President issue me a schedule of the sub--Committee on Schools Reconstruction which I intend to attend. Sharon Cottman stated at the Special Meeting of August 12, 2013 that it was incumbent upon me to adopt the position of the majority on issues before the BOE. After laboring with the idea for 22 seconds, I decided not to do that. She also suggested that I, as an individual, refrain from contacting anyone at the State Education Department (SED). That is a nonsensical suggestion. I have waived the $5,000 annual stipend and requested that it be divided equally amongst the 8 schools in the Park district to be used by the Principals for the benefit of the students as they see fit in their sole discretion. If there is a problem with that, please advise. Issue items marked "confidential" are not being distributed to others. I will address all other items at the open meeting and confidential issues in executive session. Please add my agenda to the master BOE agenda. For those receiving copies of this memo, please feel free to forward the same to your friends, relatives and fellow employees as you may see fit. Issue #11. Charter Schools. Florence Johnson indicated at the last special meeting of the BOE, that BOE members should be anti-Charter. Her skewed thinking is that anyone who supports Charter schools has a conflict and should recuse themselves. Obviously she, and those who think like her, (the Education cabal that I wrote of in my last correspondence) have little or no regard for the fact that Charters are public schools authorized by the State as a tool for turning around dysfunctional urban school districts. If there were no Charters there would be another 8,000 students in priority schools.
Issue #30. Motion#16. Dismissal of the Superintendent. I re-submit my motion to dismiss the Superintendent for cause. We presently pay approximately $850,000/year for Superintendent leadership--total cost of Pamela Brown is $350,000/year and the contract with Mary Guinn is $500,000/year. Mary Guinn and others perform all of Pamela Brown's functions. The BPS was during the past year not only dysfunctional, but a disastrous train wreck. Virtually every aspect of the Superintendent's leadership is an ineffective disappointment. There is little question that the Education cabal is also at fault. It has been on the watch of Florence Johnson, Sharon Cottman, Barbara Nevergold, Ruth Kapsiak and John Licata, who selected the deficient Superintendent, that the BPS has slid into the abyss. These people are more interested in preserving the status quo than effectuating change. They blow through public funds to pay pathetic and incompetent appointees, consultants and new hires rather than spend our funding to educate our children. Cabal Board members have propped up their weak and incapable Superintendent with only God knows how many outside consultants, EPO Partners and new hires whose cost is so outrageous that it was necessary to close down the music program in the schools and give costly useless jobs to those replaced. The Superintendent said she saved $1 million in the budget but never proved it and refuses to address that issue because she lied just as she lied about the APPR issue. She continues to make policy decisions without BOE approval because she has been told to do so by BOE members who selected her and now protect her out of pride. Mary Guinn has a $500,000 contract, (of which she pockets at least $400,000). She has, in secret, and without any consultation or approval by the full BOE, implemented a Reorganization Plan illegally and unethically replacing an unknown number of good and qualified administrators, principals and teachers in sensitive and critical administrative positions, with misfit members of her friends and family club who hold themselves out as "turnaround specialists" and travel around the country ripping off urban school districts in distress. These BOE members do not understand their own shortcomings and responsibilities and carry an unjustified arrogant attitude that they know what they are doing. They have no shame for their failure because they incredibly believe they have served the children well. What are they going to do when the three Cabal at-large members are replaced next year and the new majority fires the Superintendent, the General Counsel, the principal at East High School (who lied about "dumping" 155 students) and all of the consultants and other appointees for collusion and incompetence. Who is going to jail when we get into all the books and records? Government corruption is a Federal crime where Federal funding is involved. Amateur hour is over. This is the big leagues and we play for keeps. The real problem with the BPS has been top down pathetic leadership, incapable of submitting proper applications for SIG grants, the remediating of priority schools, implementing an acceptable school choice program under the No Child Left Behind Law or confronting the re-
implementation of neighborhood schools which the community cries out for. The Education Cabal has a predisposition for the status quo and makes every excuse why change can't be effectuated. Issue #3. Motion #30. Reorganization Plan. I have been asking for the past 45 days for the Reorganization Plan chart and other specifics. I've received nothing, but implementation has proceeded. I've asked for the names, titles, "special qualifications," contracts and compensation that made it so important to hire lame and misfit administrators from outside Erie County. I've asked what happened to the people who were replaced and why theywere replaced? I've asked for the complete line item budget. I've asked for a citation of the law that allows the Superintendent to appoint exempt people, outside the budget, without BOE approval. I've asked why the last General Counsel was fired and why his replacement was chosen to be General Counsel after having been rejected two years ago for an associate's position. This is the same person who was asked to advise the BOE on three matters and was wrong twice. She also at the last meeting colluded with a BOE member and tried to lie about it. I move that the BOE instruct the Superintendent to immediately respond to my questions stated above. Issue #29. Motion #31. Neighborhood Schools. At the last BOE meeting John Licata said that the change from neighborhood schools to "school choice" was a laborious project and even though "school choice" is a complete failure, that to change back to neighborhood schools would be going back to segregation and some inner City neighborhoods are dangerous for children to walk to school. So he advocates that we just continue with the same failing system. As a lawyer, Licata knows that a Federal judge would be hard put to make the same mistake that Judge Curtin made. His decision made our schools dysfunctional, sent uneducated students to the streets, scared the middle and working class to flee to the suburbs for fear of sending their children into a dysfunctional school system, resulting in the decay of neighborhoods and property values. He destroyed the City of Buffalo. We should use the neighborhood school model wherever possible to get the kids off the buses and walking to school, allow parents who have more than one child to have them in one school so they can actually participate in their education, allow the neighborhood to once again participate in school activities and restore the confidence in the community that the BPS is trying to do better.
I move that the BOE instruct the Superintendent to immediately prepare a plan to implement a model elementary neighborhood school program at School 72-Lorraine Academy, School 27-Hillery Park Elementary, School 93-South-Side Elementary, a reopened school 70, School 43Lovejoy Discovery School, School 69 Houghton Academy, School 33--Bi-Lingual Center, School 67-Discovery School. Issue #39. Motion#32. Lafayette-- English Learning. Lafayette High School's basic problem has been identified. Over 50% of the 800 plus students are refugees who speak over 40 different languages and can't understand English. The Superintendent's first $1.2 million EPO plan with Johns Hopkins was devoid of any reference to English Learning (EL). Did she overlook the core problem or did the predisposed and dis-engaged, highly paid, Mary Guinn make the decision for her? I raised the question at the BOE meeting and the plan was then modified to address the critical issue. But we learned at the August 12 meeting that the budget (contract) amount was not settled. The Administration also acknowledged that they never received a breakdown of the contract price so they really had no idea how the value of the service was determined. Why should they care? The BOE walked into the trap and approved the contract leaving open the issue of the amount of additional compensation which will be difficult to negotiate with people you've already contracted with. I move that the President of the BOE act immediately and before the start of the school year to insure that the best EL program available is implemented at Lafayette. Issue #4. Motion#1. Superintendent Evaluation. I re-submit my motion that the BOE declare the Superintendent's Evaluation was illegal. Issue #6. Motions #2-2d. APPR and MOU. I resubmit my motions concerning the fraudulent filing of the APPR. Issue #18. Motion # 33. Retiree Health Insurance costs. This budget year has a provision for $66.6 million to cover health insurance for 4,000 retires which amounts to $16,650. Recognizing that retirees do not have children and in many cases do not have spouses, the numbers are staggering. I move that Barb Smith be instructed to make a public presentation to the BOE of why the health costs for retirees are so high, including a description of coverages and possible less costly alternatives. Issue # 22. Motion #34. Tenure. I move the BOE instruct the Superintendent that prior to making any negotiated or final decision on the granting or denial of tenure, that the employee's record and the reason for the decision be submitted to the BOE in executive session. Issue # 35. Unions, Contracts. I request a briefing by the Superintendent of the status of contract negotiations with the BPS various unions.
Issue # 37. Motion # 35. School 43 Alternative Program. I move that the BOE instruct the Superintendent to review the proposal made by Norman Backos to convert School 43 to an alternative education program and report the prospect of adopting the program. Issue # 40. Motion # 36. Violence. There appears to be an unwritten policy in the BPS that if possible, incidents involving students, parents, staff or others, observed or by complaint, be kept within the schools so as to cover up and deny the public knowledge of the extent of violence, intimidation and bullying in the BPS. I move that the BOE set a firm and public policy that any incident involving students, parents, staff or others, brought on by observation or complaint, in the BPS that looks like, sounds like or appears in any way to be a crime be referred immediately to the Buffalo Police Department for formal and public investigation and, if appropriate, prosecution as a juvenile or as an adult as the case may be, with no further involvement by BPS personnel. Issue # 41. Charter School of Applied Technologies (CSAT). The CSAT is a well performing public Charter School with a majority of its students coming from the City of Buffalo. Although the actual school is located in Kenmore the school is a critical factor in the education of Buffalo students. I move that the BOE ask the Say Yes Administration to extend its program to students at CSAT.
CARL P. PALADINO BOE AGENDA 7/3/13
18. 10. 30. 1 2-2d
#1 #2 #3 #4 #5 #6 #7 #8 #9
BOCES Career Tech Program. State Board Communications. Reorganization Requires BOE Approval. Superintendent Evaluation - Illegal vote. YWCA of WNY -- confidential. APPR and Side Letter MOU. Test School Enrollments – Superintendent Comp - Reimb Retirement Contr. Distinguished Educator – Judy Elliott.
Ed. Spt Com - BS,WK Passed Fin/Oper Com -PB Re-subm motion Joe G. - PB Re-subm motion Ed Spt com WK PB and Kristoff PB
#10 3 #11 #12 4 #13 #14 #15 #16 5. #17 33 #18 7&8. #19. 9 #20 #21 34 #22 11 #23 12 #24 13. #25 14 #26 #27 #28 15,31 #29 16 #30 #31 17 #32 #33. #34. #35. #36. 35 #37. #38. 32 #39. 36 #40. #41.
Student Placement Protocol. Test Schs Charters- Outsourcing of Priority Schools . Cross and Joftus recommendations. DPCC ability to support candidates for BOE. Non-Resident Tuitions Budget – Reimb from unions. Budget – Health and Welfare Reimb. Budget – Busing Audit. Budget -- Retiree Health Insurance Costs. Budget -- Reconsider. Overtime, Reorg, etc. Budget – Plant Services. Budget – General-Denial of Tenure – confidential BOE disclosure and conflicts -- confidential. Stop Joint School Reconstruction Program. Legis deleg meetings and urban Sch dist alliance. Extended school day and year. Graduation rates and stats. Community Superintendents Neighborhood Schools. Superintendent’s resignation or dismissal. Priority Schools. Illegal Mini-Meetings BOE Meetings. Test Schools. Unions, Contracts Unions, Breakfast School 43, Alternative Program. Budget. Music Program Lafayette and BPS EL Program Attendance and Violence Charter School For Applied Technologies/Say Yes
Ed Spt Com.WK Stu Ach Com PB,MG,BS Exec afs/legal PB, BS PB,KE PB,BS PB,BS New subm PB,BS PB, BS,JG PB,BS New Subm Human resources Fin/OPER Com,BN,JG Exec afs,JK Exec afs and Fin/Oper PB,BS PB,DB Exec afs, JK Resubmit Motion Ed. Spt, WK Exec afs,JK Exec afs, JK Withdrawn
July 1, 2013 Issue #1 - BOCES Motion #18
Enclosed is an information sheet from BOCES concerning its Career Tech program for counseling and vocational training which costs approximately $7,656/ student/ year. BPS receives over $29,000/ student/ year. BOCES services are available to BPS except that BPS will not receive any State reimbursement which is minimal and inconsequential.
I will make a motion at the July 10, 2013 meeting of the BOE "that BPS enter into an agreement with BOCES to enroll Buffalo students in their vocational programs including its Career Tech program" to not only enroll its undisciplined and violent students who are otherwise suspended, staying home or transferred from school to school disrupting and disturbing the classroom, but also to help educate the many students for whom vocational training is more appropriate than college vocations. I was told that certain BOE members would not consider this option because they dislike the BOCES supervisor and they have instructed you to not deal with BOCES under any condition. The cost is minimal and the BOE focus should be on the immediate education of the children and not on the self-serving biases and prejudices of its members. It will take years, if ever, for the BOE to create acceptable vocational programs. BOCES is there now. Is it true that you were instructed to not deal with BOCES? If so, who instructed you? I request, prior to the next BOE meeting, an explanation of why the BPS does not avail itself of these BOCES programs.
Date: Re: Education
July 1, 2013 Issue #2 – Communications between the Superintendent and the State Board of Motion #10
I will move at the first regular meeting of the BOE "that the Superintendent immediately upon receipt send copies to all BOE members by e-mail of all communications between the State Department of Education, including the Commissioner of Education or any subdivision thereof, and the Superintendent."
July 1, 2013 Issue #3 – Reorganization is a budget function that requires BOE Approval
All budget issues must be approved in advance by the BOE. The administration Reorganization Plan and the hiring and firing of personnel are budget issues that require specific prior approval by the BOE.
July 1, 2013 Issue #4 – Illegal Superintendent Evaluation Motion #1
Please furnish me and all other Board members with the complete final evaluation of the Superintendent’s performance for the school year ending June 30, 2013. Also, please send all BOE members copies of the initial evaluation and all written comments made by each individual BOE member, a copy of the tally of votes, the name of the persons who tallied the votes, the name of the person who wrote the final evaluation, the name of the person who typed the evaluation, the date the final evaluation was written and completed, the reason that the evaluation was not discussed with the entire BOE, the reason the evaluation was not completed on June 27, 2013, the reason it was not at least distributed to all members of the BOE prior to June 27, 2013 and the reason that the evaluation was not made public prior to approval to allow for public review, comments and input. On June 27th, four members of the BOE stated publicly at the BOE meeting that they had not seen a final version of the evaluation. Board Counsel Chris Petrino stated that he had not seen or reviewed the document and it was his function to review the structure and content before submission to the BOE for approval. Ruth Kapsiak said that she and the superintendent had executed an evaluation. What authority did Ruth Kapsiak have to execute an evaluation document that was never seen by, vetted to or approved by the BOE? Kapsiak stated that the evaluation of the performance of the Superintendent was discussed secretly, in executive session. Also, please advise on what grounds the public is denied access and input on this critical issue? The matter deserves a legal opinion. I request that Counsel furnish the BOE with a legal opinion as soon as possible. There is an obvious question of whether or not the final evaluation even existed at the time of the vote. I questioned Karl Kristoff, Esq. after the meeting. He told me to ask for a copy once I was sworn in. I did so on July 1 and I was told that it was not available. I'm still waiting for an un-redacted copy of the evaluation. The document referred to in the BOE meeting on June 27, 2013 may have been discussed but certainly it was never typed, forwarded and discussed by the BOE and approved in final form by the BOE. Were you, as Superintendent, aware of an actual evaluation document prior to June 27, 2013? Were you given an opportunity to comment? If so, please advise what you said and to whom?
Please furnish me with a copy of the document that you saw prior to June 27 and your written comments, if any. If not, please advise why you said on June 27 that you saw it? Why was Mr. Kristoff involved in the evaluation process? The vote to approve the evaluation was illegal insofar as there was no document presented at the meeting for discussion by the BOE and BOE members stated on the record that they had not seen or commented on the final version of the document. You announced on July 2 that your score was 4.17/ 5. Three BOE members have stated privately that they gave you failing grades. Please provide documentation to support that claim because your score is a mathematical impossibility. Also, please send me and other BOE members a copy of your performance agreement for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2013 upon which the evaluation was conducted. I will move at the July 10, 2013 BOE meeting " that the Superintendent's evaluation approved June 27, 2013 is legally inoperative and rescinded to be reconsidered by the new BOE."
July 1, 2013
Re: Issue #6 – APPR and MOU Side Letter Motions #2, 2a, 2b, 2c, and 2d. I will make the following motions at the first regular meeting of the BOE: #2) "That all members of the prior BOE give depositions, under oath, at a special BOE, open and public meeting, with questions from the members, to determine their knowledge concerning the submission of the APPR with Certification on January 17, 2013 to the State Education Department (SED) without disclosure of the illegal January 15, 2013 MOU executed between the Union and the Superintendent, which side letter nullified the APPR."
Ruth Kapsiak, as signatory to the APPR certification and any other BOE members who had knowledge of the MOU prior to January 17, 2013 must recuse themselves from the deliberations and vote on this motion. Each member of the prior BOE must publicly explain his/her actions in connection with this apparent fraud and breach of fiduciary duty and any BOE member who was aware of the filing of the fraudulent APPR prior to its submission, must be suspended and/or resign from the BOE immediately. Attached is a copy of the Certification which accompanied the APPR executed by Ruth Kapsiak and the Superintendent. The Certification submitted to SED is prima facie evidence that the crimes of fraud and breach of fiduciary duty were committed by former BOE President Ruth Kapsiak and Superintendent Pamela Brown insofar as they failed to submit or disclose to the State the January 15, 2013 side letter MOU. SED has advised that the New York State Attorney General has been notified of the apparent criminality. SED is closely monitoring the situation and has not yet released the funding or approved the APPR agreement. 2a) "That the BOE immediately request a New York State Police investigation of the matter."
2b) "That Ruth Kapsiak is to recuse herself from any further deliberations of the BOE pending the result of the investigation." 2c) "That Pamela Brown be suspended as Superintendent pending the result of the investigation." 2d) "That the Buffalo Teacher’s Federation be advised that the BOE will have no further negotiations or communications of any sort with Philip Rumore, President of the BTF pending the result of the investigation." This apparent criminality has resulted in an embarrassment to the citizens of the City of Buffalo and all of the hard workers in the BPS and has compromised the BOE relations and reputation with the SED.
July 1, 2013 Issue #7 - Hutch Tech – Enrollments - Test School
Attached is a memo that I received from a young man whose name has been redacted. He is a student at Hutch Tech who wonders why, if Hutch Tech is deemed to be a test school, the school is accepting students who are not high achievers. Please advise how to respond.
Date: Re: Distributions
July 1, 2013 Issue #8 – Superintendent’s Compensation – Reimbursement for Retirement
Under your employment agreement you are entitled to an undefined amount of compensation if you do not belong to the NYS Retirement System.
July 1, 2013 Issue #9 - Distinguished Educator – Judy Elliott
School administrators have complained that you, or someone on your behalf, instructed Mary Guinn to instruct school administrators and teachers not to speak to Dr. Judy Elliott nor to give Dr. Elliott any information that would make the Superintendent or District “look bad.” Please make Mary Guinn available at the first regular meeting of the Board to answer questions about these instructions. Also advise of the title of the position of authority of Mary Guinn with the BPS and send me a copy of her employment contract and job description. What is her mission? Who pays her salary and how much? Who decided that Mary Guinn would be the BPS Superintendent without portfolio? Did the BOE approve this action? Have you at any time issued any instructions to any executive or other staff to recriminate and/or intimidate any employee of the Buffalo Public Schools for coming forward to make complaints, give suggestions, etc?
July 1, 2013 Issue #10 - Student Placement Protocol
Please furnish all members of the BOE with the present protocol for student placement of Special Ed and English Learners at Hutch Tech and City Honors. It is my understanding that
Dave Mauricio, a Community Superintendent, has prepared an analysis of data for criterion and non-criterion schools. Please furnish me with a copy of the same. Also, please advise who will be supervising student placement and enrollments for the coming school year and also a copy of the current protocol for all student placement and enrollments.
July 1, 2013 Issue #11 - Outsourcing of all Priority Schools Motion #3
The Buffalo Public Schools (BPS) District's Corrective Action Plan (CAP,) (in response to the State Education Department (SED) mandate of May 29, 2013,) was submitted on June 28, 2013 to the SED and on July 2, 2013 to the Board of Education. The CAP is a perfunctory and a farcical composite of meaningless rhetoric. It is non-responsive, obviously designed to stall the inevitable failure to relocate children into the next school year so the administration can claim disruption because the school year has started. The response should have been an admission that it will be impossible for the BPS to comply with the law and give 27,000 students the choice of attending a non-priority school insofar as the performing schools have no room and BPS is totally dysfunctional. The Federal law never contemplated a School District in such distress and chaos, devoid of any discernible leadership, with la de da, incapable, "deer in the headlights" leaders incapable of recognizing that the BPS is in an awful state. BPS leaders are clueless as to what to do about it. Unless immediate action is taken as herein provided, I will commence a taxpayer’s action seeking an order that the SED discharge the BOE and the Superintendent in favor of the appointment by SED of a Special Master with the expertise to lift the District out of its malaise. Year after year after year the children of Buffalo have suffered bad leadership and dysfunctional schools. It must stop. Hollow promises and master plans, poorly crafted by the same incapable people on whose watch the system failed, will continue to deny our students a fair opportunity to an education. The BOE has been controlled for over a generation by a self-righteous majority faction of self-absorbed, irresponsible members with a "our way or the highway," mentality. They are challenged people with no sense of their ongoing failures, no guilt for destroying the lives of children and the family fabric of their community. They have no sense of urgency. They are clearly "underwater" and clueless. They do not command any respect from any BPS constituency including employees, parents or the citizens of the City. They lead from behind by intimidation and recrimination. They hold public office only because of an apathetic and complacent public and "political osmosis," (the art of political parasites filling any vacuum when
the opportunity presents itself.) They hold positions that require a sense of good judgment which far exceeds their level of competency. From a distance they look innocent and wellintended. Up close they play the race card, lie, make up their own reality, connive and scheme in defense of their incapabilities. Despite a new awareness and engagement manifested in a clear mandate from the electorate in this past election, they continue to fight the inevitable need for major and dynamic change. There is little question that when considering the present composition of the BOE, the intransigence of the leadership of the BPS employee unions, the lack of unified and committed parental involvement, the frustration of Distinguished Educator Judy Elliott and the "Say Yes" organization in implementing their reform and remedial programs and the desire of the community to have immediate change, doing things the same way as in the past and waiting years for implementation of impossible promises by incapable people is no longer the solution. Immediate, substantial and constructive change is required. The deplorable condition of the BPS and the fact that BPS have failed to comply with the provisions of the “Federal No Child Left Behind” law, which directs that all school districts with failing schools allow the children in those schools the opportunity prior to July 1, 2013, to choose a public school that is not failing, demand immediate and determined attention. I will move at the July 10, 2013 meeting of the BOE for a resolution as follows: "1.). The Superintendent shall immediately study and implement a policy of outsourcing students and converting all priority schools to Regents Approved Charters requesting expedited and special consideration and approval of the Board of Regents. 2.). The Superintendent shall immediately consult with all suburban school districts and Charter Schools to determine the opportunity for them to enroll Buffalo students into their schools for the coming school year. 3.). The Superintendent shall immediately consult with BOCES to enroll Buffalo students into various BOCES vocational programs that are presently available, especially the outsourcing of disciplinary alternative students to the BOCES Career and Technical Education programs." Presently, discipline problem students are mainstreamed into BPS schools causing disruption for good students and the problem has grown to one of severe neglect. Attached is an article from the Wall Street Journal describing the City of Highland Park, Michigan decision to outsource all of its schools to a not-for-profit charter firm.
July 2, 2013 Issue #12 – Cross and Joftus Recommendations
Cross and Joftus Consultants, sent observation teams into 195 classrooms throughout the district last spring which dove-tailed with an audit done by Dan Barkens, Schoolhouse Partners and the significant findings were: 1. One out of three middle and high school classes has 16 or fewer students enrolled costing the district $7MIL each year without yielding clear academic benefits. Significant funds could be saved by combining classes with low enrollment, but you said you have not made any decisions regarding this issue. Have you made a decision to date and if not, why? 2. Some BPS administrators are doing the same work as lower level employees, but making higher salaries. Savings could be realized by making the job title and respective salaries
more accurately reflect performance or by cutting administrators. They estimate a $2.7 to $9MIL savings. They are inferring that some people are being overpaid for jobs that could be done by others at a much more reasonable cost. Does your reorganization plan to deal with cutting or redefining the roles of district administrators who are overpaid? 3. The contract with the NFTA for bus passes requires renegotiation. The district pays too much for what is rather limited access for students. They can ride only during times that they would be going to/from school and only on routes between home and school. $2.5MIL could be saved. Has this contract with the NFTA been renegotiated? If not, why? 4. There is a need to convert HR paperwork to a web-based system. Nearly all forms are currently filled out on paper and physically walked from one office to another. This system is inefficient. $700,000 could be saved. What have you done to rectify this problem if anything? 5. City Honors is a successful program. Why has the district not tried to replicate a successful, sought after program such as City Honors? 6. Systems review found that much responsibility for the current situation is attributed to the former Superintendent and the Buffalo Teacher’s Federation. The previous administration's leadership style established in the district a culture of obedience and siloed behaviors rather than trust, collaboration and a “can do it-ness” – Scott Joftus. You are perpetuating that culture. The entire district is in a state of chaos for lack of judicious leadership and district employees are warned and fear that they will be intimidated and recriminated against should they speak out on any issues. Will you issue a directive to all employees of the district that there will be no intimidation or recrimination for any person in the district speaking out and speaking their mind on any issue? The BOE should consider adopting a "whistle blower" policy with rewards. Cross and Joftus stated that when “working in a broken system, it’s difficult to be successful”. Date: Re: July 1, 2013 Issue #13 – District Parents Coordinating Council-- Ability to support candidates for BOE elections. Motion #4
Attached is a copy of the Buffalo News article on March 21, 2013 concerning the BOE taking aim at the parents group backing candidates for the BOE. Nate Kuzmanko, Assistant Legal Counsel for the Buffalo Public Schools (BPS) stated that the "District Parenting Coordinating Council (DPCC), as a group, promulgated by the Buffalo Board of Education, should not, as a group or as the DPCC, be sponsoring any candidate for the upcoming elections. It’s inherently a conflict of interest."
The irony is that individual BOE members and the various employee unions all sponsored and supported candidates for the Board of Education election. The duality of stating that the DPCC, as a subcommittee of the BOE, could not sponsor candidates for the BOE, is simply incredible and incredulous. Ms. Cottman and Mr. Hernandez, vehemently pursued this decision. There is no basis in law for the decision. Was outside counsel retained on this issue? If so, who was outside counsel and what was paid to outside counsel? I will move that the BOE at rhe July 10, 2013 meeting to "discontinue the DPCC as a subcommittee of the Board and allow the parents group and any individuals in the group, to speak as they wish in the upcoming BOE election for its At-Large seats.”
July 1, 2013
Issue #14 – Budget - Non-Resident Tuition from Other Districts
According to the budget, the district provides education services to non-resident students on a tuition/fee basis. Please provide a thorough explanation to answer the following questions. Do we take students into our schools who are not residents of Buffalo, presumably the achieving schools and deny a seat to Buffalo students? How many students avail themselves of this program? Is the program required by law? What is the annual tuition charged to the other
July 1, 2013 Issue #15 – Budget – Teacher Aides and Assistants Union
The budget includes a reimbursement from the Teacher Aides and Assistants Union for the salary and benefits of its president while on leave from his/her or regular duties. Are such reimbursements made by the other unions i.e. the OCSA Administrative Union and the BTF for time taken from regular duties? If so, please provide that information. If not, why not?
July 1, 2013 Issue #16 - Budget – Health and Welfare Reimbursement
July 1, 2013 Issue #17 -Budget – Busing Audit Motion #5
It appears that the total cost of busing is a combination of the 90% transportation aid provided by the State at $37,285,597 which totals $41,428,000 in direct transportation costs to the vendor
plus the additional cost of bus aides of $5,504,900 totaling in excess of $50,000,000 considering scheduling, supervision, etc. I will move to have the BOE, at it's July 10, 2013 meeting, to "retain an outside auditor to review all transportation costs relative to busing and provide the BOE with opportunities to cut costs" which in addition to the above, include BPS employees involved in scheduling, supervising, etc.
July 1, 2013
Re: Issue #18 -Budget-- Adjustments to retiree and active BPS employee union contract health insurance costs and management prerogatives Retirement benefits, health insurance, social security, etc. total $184,206,000 including health benefits for 4,013 retirees totaling $66.6MIL or $16,650/year/retiree. Historically, the BTF has been very successful in having excessive health benefits paid 100% for life for retirees. Considering the deplorable financial and academic condition of the BPS there needs to be a significant re-allocation of its already substantial funding (the third highest funding per student in America at over $29,000/ student) in the present year, to the mission of actually educating the students in the system. As such the BPS employee union contracts must be immediately and significantly adjusted to lower health insurance costs and recover management prerogative surrendered by weak, union inclined and complicit Superintendents and Boards of Education in the past. Our State government including the Governor and the Legislature are happy with the status quo and their relationships with public employee unions. It is disturbing that insular union leadership has no interest in helping the BPS to achieve cost savings with little or no intrusion on the benefits of the employees they represent. They fail to bargain equitably. They make an issue of every budget, contract or management prerogative opportunity so as to hold the BPS hostage to exact further tribute. They can only be dealt with by aggressive action from the BOE. The BOE was compelled to drop its music program. There are class sizes of 32 students, without aides. Good and needed teachers were laid off. None of that would have happened if the teachers’ contract did not have a cosmetic surgery rider. It is not hard to connect the dots. BOE action must include seeking Bankruptcy "cram down", outsourcing functions and students to other districts and charter schools and the formation of more Regents Approved Charter Schools.
I will move at the July 10, 2013 meeting of the BOE "to retain Bankruptcy Counsel to advise on the filing of a voluntary petition in Bankruptcy to " cram down" public employee contracts including substantial adjustments to employee health benefit programs and to recover management prerogative rights."
July 1, 2013
Re: Issue #19 – Budget Reconsideration– Overtime, Reorganization, waste, BPS employee union contract negotiations, etc. Motion #’s 7 & 8 a. The budget includes under “Board of Education Office” , the cost of two full time employees who apparently earn approximately $40,000 in overtime pay per year. Throughout the remainder of the budget there are many other examples of unnecessary, wasteful and very costly allocations for overtime pay amounting to millions of dollars. Considering the finances of the BPS, it is appropriate that all overtime paid in the district to any employee be denied unless approved by a senior executive staff member, and then only if an emergency situation develops, and in lieu thereof, the employee be rescheduled for offhour events or be given comp time from his/her job. b. There is a budget line for $20,000 reserved for meeting expenses. Please provide me with a breakdown of such expenses. c. The budget provides for $15,000 for contract services and $32,000 for Board member travel. Please explain both. Considering the state of finances for the Buffalo Public Schools, there should be no travel allowed for any Board members. They can read online whatever they could possibly learn someplace else. I will make such a motion at the first regular BOE meeting. d. The Superintendent’s office budget includes employee mileage, employee conference of $25,000, non-employee travel of $2,000, meeting expenses of $8,500 and overtime of $4,000 for a total of three people. Please explain time allocations. I believe that substantial cuts can be made in the budget of the Superintendent’s office considering the fiscal situation of the BPS. e. Under legal counsel, the budget provides $380,000 for contract services which is the hiring of outside law firms. In addition to hiring outside law firms, the district has four attorneys on staff at a total cost of $330,000/year last year. Other charges in the legal department include employee conference for $16,000 which requires explanation, employee mileage of $1,000, dues of $4,000 and overtime of $2,550.00. Please explain. A significant adjustment must be made to the legal budget. The retention of one good litigator would obviate much of the cost of hiring outside law firms at premium rates.
f. Each department in the budget has an expensive allocation for “ contract services” adding up to millions of cost. Further explanation is required for each instance. Does the BPS hire back teachers and/ or administrators as contract employees? Please explain. I will make such a motion to the BOE at its July10, 2013 meeting for the BOE: 7) " to comprehensively review and reconsider the 2013-2014 Budget considering the planned Reorganization plan and the entrenched and obvious wasteful spending incorporated therein." 8) " to order the Superintendent to immediately commence negotiations, with any of the BPS unions not presently under contract, for contract provisions to include, but not be limited to, cost savings adjustments to employee and retiree health insurance provisions, the surrender of all management prerogative to the BPS, an extended school day and school year with appropriate and proportional increases in pay, re-empowerment and accountability of Principals, outsourcing of students for vocational programs, neighborhood schools, and shutting down 7 to 10 school buildings.
July 1, 2013 Issue #20 – Budget – Plant Services Motion #9
The budget for Plant Services is $23,575,347 which includes compensation for 57 engineers, plus 4 who are obviously at schools that are about to close. $219,000 is allocated for evening school custodian, $89,000 for overtime for custodian engineers, $360,000 for overtime, contract services of $165,000 and oil burner maintenance of $104,000 all of which require further explanation. If we are paying Chief Stationery Engineers, why are we paying for oil burner maintenance? $1,500 for mileage, $1,200 for employee PLO conference, $3,016,000 for “contract benefits custodian”, $14,456,000 for contract day school, $66,700 for contract summer school, extra activities of $251,500, all of which require further explanation. It appears that the Plant Maintenance Department employs 187 people with an allocation of $1,646,000 for overtime. Why?
At the BOE meeting of July 10, 2013, I will move "to retain an outside consultant to assist the BOE in considering outsourcing the functions of school engineers, custodians and individual school janitorial." Knowing the business, I am certain that the outsourced cost will be a fraction of what is being paid at present.
July 1, 2013 Issue #21 – Budget
The total budget for the BPS for the fiscal year 2013-2014 includes the general budget of $793,000,000, the food budget of $31,669,000, the special projects budget of $113,516,000 and the debt service budget at $105,640,000 totaling $1,020,825,000. The actual number of students in BPS is a figure that defies definition. The budget says there are 39,164 students in the BPS and Charter system, (31,151 in BPS and 8,013 in 17 charter schools). $1,020,825,000 divided by 39,164 students equals $26,065/student/year is received and spent by BPS for every student in the City. State law requires that only $12,000/student be sent to the Charter Schools. The budget provides for a $101,000,000 allocation to the Charter Schools which I believe assumes 8,013 students x $12,000/ per student, totaling $96,156,000 plus the allocated cost of busing those students. Subtracting $101,000,000 from $1,020,825,000 leaves a balance of $919,825 to educate 31,151 students in BPS which is $29,527/student. Admittedly, health insurance costs are high in Buffalo, but other school districts have the same percentage of pension costs. Unfortunately, Buffalo’s health insurance cost for retirees is exorbitant but even removing that $66,660,000 cost from the budget, the balance is $853,225,000 which divided by 31,151 students yields a per student cost of $27,389. Upon review of the budget, it appears that there is waste and abuse everywhere. Outsourced contract work for undefined services is unconscionable. Overtime is unconscionable. The bloated administration bureaucracy is out of sorts. Layer upon layer of bureaucratic administration and supervision in a centralized system cannot exist in the 21st century. The BOE must be de-centralized and dismantled. Principals must be re-empowered. The budget and District need restructuring. Many people will lose their jobs. It will be painful but BPS is not a social services agency. The tone of the budget is that we continue to have to cut, cut, cut. That’s what you have to do when the student body is falling.
All this and the Charters receive a paltry $12,000/ student allocation when BPS has a $29,527/ student allocation. What is wrong this picture? And the Charters function better. BOE members complain but the fact is that the Charters relieve the BPS of the additional cost that it would suffer if it had the 8,013 students back in the BPS.
July 1, 2013 Issue #24 – Stop School Reconstruction Program Motion #12
At the July 10, 2010 BOE meeting I will make a motion "that the BOE halt all further school reconstruction under the $1.4 billion School Reconstruction Program pending a complete review and survey of all facilities in connection with a downsizing of building inventory made necessary by the decline in student enrollment over the past 12 years and the need for neighborhood schools." The School Reconstruction Program was designed 12 years ago at a time when the BPS had approximately 43,000 students enrolled. Since that time, the school population has dipped to 31,151 students as of January, 2013. The original program was designed to reconstruct and provide facilities sufficient to teach 50,000 students. Insofar as the actual enrollment is approximately 40% less than the original program, it is time that the basis for the program be reviewed and that the Board stop wasting money reconstructing schools that may be closed. There are 57 active school buildings of which at least 7 must and can be closed. An effort to concentrate students in fewer buildings will make the system much more efficient at a great cost savings which could then be applied for the better education of the children in the district. The simple continuation of the Reconstruction Program is farcical, wasteful and more directed at taking care of unions, contractors and architects than it is satisfying the true needs of a deplorable education system that has higher priorities in the academic end of its budget. BPS employs 57 engineers, 57 custodians, 57 janitorial crews, pays utilities for 57 schools and otherwise wastes millions of dollars keeping buildings open that should be closed and turned back to the City. Date: Re: July 1, 2013 Issue #25 – Legislative Delegation Meetings, Legislation and Alliances Motion #13
At the next regular scheduled BOE meeting, I will make a motion "that the BOE instruct the Superintendent 1) to pursue quarterly public meetings with the Western New York State Legislative Delegation to develop an agenda of action items and pursue the delegation for separate legislation urgently needed to properly operate the BPS as necessitated by its current circumstances, including, but not limited to amendment to 3020a of the education law and legislation allowing the State Education Commissioner the authority to discharge District Boards and Superintendents who are not performing.
July 1, 2013 Issue #26– Extended School Day and Year Motion #14
At the July 10, 2013 BOE meeting, I will make a motion "that the Superintendent immediately prepare a plan to extend the school year to 200 days and to extend the school day to 7.5 hours each school day." At present, the City of Rochester BOE has a 185 day school year. It is working to extend that school year to 197 days. The Rochester BPS has a 6 hour day, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday and a 5 hour day on Thursday. The Rochester BOE is seeking to extend the school day to a 7.5 hour day every day.
July 1, 2013 Issue #27 – Graduation Rates
Last week we suffered from the exposure of the declining graduation rate by the State Education Department for the year ending June 30, 2012. I request that you instruct your staff to immediately determine the graduation rate for the period ending June 30, 2013 and advise the BOE of the numbers.
July 1, 2013 Issue #28 – Community Superintendents
Apparently there are five Community Superintendents. Please send me a copy of the job description for a Community Superintendent. Have Principals been surveyed to determine their satisfaction or lack thereof with the activities of the Community Superintendents in giving them the necessary support and advice that they require?
July 1, 2013 Issue #29 – Neighborhood Schools Motion #15
Date: July 2, 2013 Re: Issue # 30. Demand for the resignation or termination of employment of Superintendent Pamela Brown Motion # 16 I will make a motion to the BOE at its July 10, 2013 meeting "to immediately seek the resignation of Superintendent Pamela Brown, failing which the BOE will begin proceedings to terminate her employment contract for cause including fraud and breach of fiduciary duty." The people of Buffalo unequivocally proclaimed that they've had enough of the incompetency of the Board of Education (BOE) and its Superintendent, whose lack of any discernible leadership skill and pathetic and amateur performance in her short tenure has created a systemic chaos evidenced by the current morale crisis and the breakdown of the basic structure of the system. Pamela Brown has failed because she was never competent to lead a School District of 30,000 students. The BOE touted her Ph.D. from Harvard, but a degree does not make a leader. A degree is what you complete. A District is what you lead. She had no history of supervisory skill. The BOE wanted a weak African-American Superintendent from out of State who they could control to protect their influence over the bloated budget and jobs. The BOE has a history of filling (some important and some unnecessary) positions with the unskilled, like a social services agency. The District suffers systemically from the appointment of idiots to critical jobs. The BOE and Pamela Brown are fully aware and have been all too willing to sacrifice competency and proven ability to preserve the status-quo. If they were true to the children, they would have hired the best proven and capable person, regardless of color. Brown had no experience supervising or managing school systems. She wasn't certified in New York when hired. She doesn't know New York Education law. She's had 11 jobs all over the country, primarily as a linguistics teacher. Being from out of State, she was clueless about the system's problems and the competency of the staff. She had no experience in how to get
to know the lay of the land, connect with the business community, etc. She was discharged from a failed position in upper school administration in the central office of the Philadelphia school system. There is no known Performance Agreement or evaluation between the BOE and Pamela Brown. We pay for her chauffeur and car. She earned $217,000 plus an undefined amount the district would have paid into the State retirement system had she belonged plus a $5,000/year annuity, a $7,500/ year grant for belonging to organizations whether she belongs or not, an expense account for travel and the cost of an annual medical exam, etc.. She received 40 sick days on hiring and gets 14 more per year thereafter in addition to 4 personal days per year. Brown avoids communication with her bloated staff. She screams at people over the phone and walks out of meetings that don't please her. She continues to employ the likes of Mark Frazier, who installed less-than-qualified, first year trainees as principals in critically failing PLA schools instead of promoting qualified assistant principals on merit. He also converted to his personal benefit thousands of dollars in Leadership Academy funds. He is now mucking up the Special Education program. The aloof Brown doesn't have staff meetings. She has met with her CFO infrequently this year, (despite the challenges of a $50 million budget deficit) and will only meet her and other key staff by appointment. She literally hides from the press and denies interviews. She advanced a budget and on July 1 a reorganization plan that she did not understand with any depth and which incredibly sought to cut and centralize the school counselor Student Support Team (SST) program which would have destroyed a vital tool. of the principals and teachers. She would have disassembled a system that supports students most at risk. She did destroy a good part of the music program but she didn't touch the waste, fraud and abuse of the over-layered administrative bureaucracy of incompetent former teachers and members of the friends and family club of the sisters. The students, principals, teachers and the community have suffered enough. For decades the working middle-class with children have fled to the suburbs for lack of a functional public urban school system. For those who couldn't flee, their lives were destroyed. Why should our children suffer even one more day with the trial and error of a less than capable leader? Being a Superintendent is about supervising, managing people and implementing policies and programs. It's about the skill of engaging and motivating others to reach for a clearly defined vision. John King, the State Commissioner of Education appointed Judy Elliott as the Distinguished Educator to give an objective analysis and support and advise the Superintendent on correcting the problems. Staff was admonished not to give Dr. Elliott any information that would make the Superintendent or District "look bad". Only complete transparency and an atmosphere free of intimidation and recrimination will reform the system.
Brown's lifeline has been with the insular and incredibly oblivious former BOE President, Ruth Kapsiak. Brown's weaknesses are so glaring that her irresponsible handlers have propped her up with expensive outside consultants like Mary Guinn instead of putting in place strong, top down leadership. "Say Yes" is trying to influence the system which should be a positive, except, to get influence, they had to yield to failed and corrupted BOE leadership and play politics which ultimately will lead to their failure. Regardless of the merits of the APPR, at present it is the law and there was no justification for Brown's complicity with Ruth Kapsiak to fraudulently misrepresent to the State, to obtain over $100,000,000 in aid. On January 17, 2013 the APPR, with an executed certification of its completeness, (a copy executed by Pamela Brown and Ruth Kapsiak is attached,) was submitted to the State Education Department (SED), without disclosing to the SED the January 15, 2013 illegal side letter MOU which basically made the APPR ineffective. Only after discovery and inquiry by the SED was the illegal MOU disclosed and forwarded on January 25, 2013. This was not cognitive dissonance. It was an outright criminal fraud and breach of fiduciary duty sanctioned by the President and other members of the BOE. Brown hid the debacle from the public and when confronted, she incredibly said she didn't know it was illegal. Then why have a side letter at all? If she didn't know, she's incompetent. If she did, she's unethical and criminal. She is now scheming to tell investigators that she did it on advice of counsel. They will now look for a scapegoat. Brown has now failed to timely and professionally implement the APPR. Other Districts across the State are 8 months ahead of us. Why does the present BOE need a national search for a Deputy Superintendent? Simply put, it allows them to control the person and the money. It's about abuse of power. Despite spending over $29,000 per student per year, less than 20% of black males graduate. The graduation rate in 2012 was 46%. Twenty-six percent (26%) of all students passed the statewide English and thirty-one percent (31%) passed the statewide Math proficiency tests. Forty-four (44) of fifty-seven (57) schools are failing. All that and there is no sense of urgency, no pulse. Time goes by and the same people on whose watch the system has so miserably failed are still there fumbling, mismanaging and making bad, ill-informed and unprofessional decisions. They are incapable of making an impact and, in fact, are spreading the dysfunction. Most Administrators did not earn their jobs by merit but were promoted beyond their level of competence which results when the only required credential is membership in the friends and family sorority and fraternity. It's time for strong and experienced leadership from our WNY community where we have extremely competent people who have demonstrated their abilities and commitment to Buffalo. The miserable failure of experimenting with national candidates like Harris, Williams and now Brown brought the dysfunction, corruption and racketeering that today pervades the current
BOE and the unions. Our children deserve much better. We can again have the leadership that gave us a school system that at one time was the envy and model for the rest of the country.
June 28, 2013 Issue #31– Priority Schools
Please provide all members of the BOE with answers to the following: With reference to “Priority Schools”: 1. Attendance records for the year to date 2. Names of supervisors 3. Financials for each school 4. Suspensions for last year and suspension policy 5. Academic scores 6. Dropouts and transfers Please have Barb Smith available at the first regular Board meeting to discuss the above. Date: Re: July 1, 2 013 Issue # 32- Board of Education illegal Mini-Meeting and Re-organization New Hires Motion #17
An administration reorganization plan has apparently been circulated to some BOE members in small groups to avoid the Sunshine Law. Apparently, every Monday prior to a BOE meeting a secret caucus of no more than four BOE members meets to discuss BOE issues with the Superintendent and/or others at which time decisions are made on how to proceed on initiatives and actual BOE meetings are no more than playacting. A meeting of five BOE members and one member elect with Champ Eve and James Pitts took place the weekend of June 29 to 30 in direct violation of the Sunshine Law. Secret meetings and the lack of transparency are a direct insult to the electorate and all constituencies of the BPS and such meetings must stop now. At the July 10, 2013 meeting of the BOE, I will make a motion "that the BOE members who participated in the illegal meeting on June 29-30 disclose in public the topics and content of the discussions and further that they be sanctioned as allowed by State law for violation of
the "Sunshine Law and recuse themselves from deliberation and vote on the matter." I further request that the BOE advise all in house and outside counsel that they represent the BOE as a whole and they are not to counsel or advise any one BOE member or any one faction of the BOE to the detriment of other members of the BOE. If they violate the restriction they are legally conflicted and will be removed. You told the press on July 1, 2013 that the reorganization plan was developed with BOE members. Who were they? Any reorganization plan is a budget function and requires BOE approval before implementation. Please send me a copy of the reorganization plan and the names and resumes of any people to be hired or discharged under the plan.
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