Monday, November 25, 2013

Bleeding the taxpayers dry: The empire that C. J. and Angie built- Part One

No one wanted to be the one to tell Angie Besendorfer.

The departure of Jim Simpson as Joplin R-8 superintendent gave her an opportunity to return to the kind of power she had one year earlier when she was head of the Reeds Spring School District.

Besendorfer was already under fire at Reeds Spring for employing many of the same highhanded tactics that she has used in Joplin and for firing popular teacher Mike Collins. Collins helped organize a campaign against the three incumbent board of education members and all three were defeated by people whose stated goal was to send Besendorfer packing.

Even though she had just been given a raise, Besendorfer saw the writing on the wall and left Reeds Spring to become an assistant superintendent in the Joplin R-8 School District.

And now less than one year later, she had an opportunity to move into the top position. Simpson was resigning to take over the Lindbergh school district.

Sometimes, though, things do not work out the way you plan.

The Joplin R-8 Board of Education shocked everyone by opting to hire C. J. Huff, the baby-faced superintendent of the smaller Eldon School District near Jefferson City. Huff was no stranger to the area, having grown up in southeast Kansas and having served in administrative positions in Nixa and Springfield.

When Besendorfer learned she had been bypassed in favor of a younger outsider, she threw a tantrum, sources within the administration building told the Turner Report.

Once she got it out of her system, though, her game plan changed. The board hired Huff because of the ability he had shown in Eldon to increase graduation rates, something that was desperately needed in Joplin. Besendorfer immediately began assuming all kinds of duties that would normally be handled by the superintendent, ostensibly to allow Huff to concentrate on improving graduation rates and developing his pet project- something called Bright Futures.

With her increased responsibilities, Besendorfer began building her power base, essentially making life miserable for the other two assistant superintendents, Steve Doerr and Doug Domer,with both eventually opting to retire at the end of Huff's first year in Joplin.

It was portrayed as the elimination of unnecessary positions and a saving of money for the school district.

Instead, it was the beginning of a reign of terror that has ended up costing more than 200 teachers their jobs in the last two years, added layer after layer of highly-paid administrators, and firmly planted the Joplin R-8 School District on the road to bankruptcy.

And while all of this happened, the R-8 Board of Education has rubber stamped every move. Though board members reportedly do not particularly like Besendorfer, Huff, realizing the value of having someone who is willing to do the dirty work while he takes the credit, has gone to bat for her, despite the fact, three sources within Administration have told the Turner Report, that Besendorfer has made it clear that she does not have a high opinion of the man who is supposed to be her boss and often makes remarks to her handpicked group of assistants about how little Huff understands about the way things should be done and about his penchant for crying,not only in his speeches, but also in his dealings with his administrative team.

An abundance of administrators

Anyone who thought the Joplin R-8 School District saved money when two of its four superintendent positions were eliminated has not been looking into the growing number of $50,000 plus employees who work out of the Administration Building at 32nd and Duquesne.

During Jim Simpson's last year as superintendent, he had three assistants, Besendorfer, Doerr, and Domer. Paul Barr was CFO, a position he still holds, Angela Neria was in charge of technology, a position now held by Klista Rader, and Janet Earl ran special education.

Since that time, the following positions have been created:

-Director of Community Development- held by Kim Vann, who also serves as head of Bright Futures. Ms. Vann's background is not in education. She previously worked with the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce.

-Human Relations- Tina Smith, with no education background, handles the job that was previously done by Steve Doerr, a veteran educator.

-Director of Curriculum and Instruction- Sarah Stevens was brought up from Besendorfer's personal training ground of junior administrators, the teaching coaches, this year to take this position.

-Director of Elementary Education- Jennifer Doshier was rewarded for her part in the elimination of nearly every teacher during her final year as McKinley Elementary principal by being moved into the central office.

-Director of High School Instruction- Jason Cravens handles this position.

-Assistant Director of Special Services- Mark Barlass had to be hired for this position since his immediate superior, Director of Special Services Lisa Orem, is not certified in special education. In fact, she is not even certified as an administrator any more. DESE records indicate Orem's principal certificate expired more than two years ago, on Sept. 1, 2011, and she is only certified as an elementary teacher.

Director of Buildings- Michael Johnson handles this position.

Teaching/Learning Coaches and 21st Century Learning Coaches- In addition to having principals and assistant principals at each school, Besendorfer has added teaching/learning coaches, ostensibly to help teachers, but with the understanding that they are to serve as the eyes and ears of upper administration (Besendorfer) at each school. The coaches have weekly all-day sessions in which they report to upper administration about what is going on in their buildings. After the addition of laptops for all high school students in the fall of 2011, the district added four 21st Century coaches, and then requested money for seven more in its 2012 federal Race to the Top application. Despite the U. S. Department of Education's rejection of the request, the seven coaches were hired.

Career Pathways Directors- Many of us can remember a time when principals ran a school, and if the school was big enough, there might be an assistant principal or two. Joplin has a principal, three assistants, and six Career Pathways directors. The district, under the Besendorfer plan of moving every high school student into one of five Career Pathways, has one director in charge of each pathway, and then a director in charge of the directors. Again, all of this was included in the Race to the Top application, which was rejected by the federal government. And again, despite the large amount of money, the cost was absorbed by the local budget. Of the six Career Pathways directors, only two are educators. Like so many of the other positions that have been added, they have been given to either people who have no educational background or who are woefully underqualified for the positions they hold.

In the Race to the Top application, administration indicated that when the federal money (which they did not receive) ran out, the cost for the Career Pathways and 21st century learning coach positions would be absorbed by the local budget.

Last summer, the R-8 Board of Education, continuing to rubber stamp the creation of the Huff-Besendorfer empire, gave the two carte blanche to continue their wasteful spending by approving a "strategic plan," which calls for the district's reserves to drop to 8 to 11 percent by 2014 and then continuing to add one position after another.

Of course, the same "strategic plan" calls for the reserves to be back up to 25 percent by 2015. Only one problem- there is not one word about how Huff and Besendorfer are going to accomplish that miracle.

Hopefully, no one will try to sell swamp land to the board members any time soon. The deal would most likely be approved on a 7-0 vote.

(Much more to come)







36 comments:

Anonymous said...

The most wasteful school district in the country andthe board just lets it keeps on letting it happen. I'm furious about my increased taxes I'm paying out. This is a load of bull. We didn't get much for the big bucks either. Ugly buildings and the kids aren't learning.

Anonymous said...

Hurry up and publish part 2. You're the only one who tells the truth around here. Folks need to know how bad they're being ripped off by R8 before they get asked to shell out more.

Anonymous said...

All of this and the kids learn less every year. They lie and worse yet they believe their own lies. I guess the board does too. A bad bunch all the way around. Shouldn't be tolerated by any district. They wasted all that momentum after the tornado. Ran off good teachers and make everyone miserable and are keeping the kids from learning anything important.

Anonymous said...

Get the pitchforks and lanterns. We can't afford any better materials to extricate them after paying all our money out in increased taxes because of that true conservative at modot. He's a pathetic joke and Besendorfer is worse than that. No confidence in any of them. Need a whole new board and no one at that building can stay.

Anonymous said...

Not only are they not qualified or competent they are mean as snakes. Not one worth their pay which is way too much for what they do.

Anonymous said...

No wonder they can't give raises and their teachers are leaving. There's no reason to stay in R8 where you have to be worried about everything you say and always watching over your shoulder. They have so many people working for them you just have to figure there's always a spy around. Folks are better off to go where it's safer and the pay is better.

Anonymous said...

All mean devils...and angie's coven group...

Anonymous said...

I have a lot to say ..ESP about Sarah Stevens...she caused so many problems as a K teacher & we were so happy to see her go to Irving ewhere she taught 3rd grade & caused as many problems, then was a librarian for a year & caused even more problems, snorting & denigrating & lying & wrtitng letters to
Angie about how we librarians should be behaving...yeah, we all read your letters...her arrogance was horrible , then she ended up as a TLC mouthpiece with an open door to Angie...both mean, but Sarah knew how to butter up Angie & make Angie think that her thoughts were her own...Sarah is way smarter than Angie & will have Angie's job in a couple of year's
.....watch out Angie!!! You may be able to talk yourself out of a corner, but you can't outsmart Sarah ....There is always someone younger learning from you!!!

Anonymous said...

After April none of them will have their jobs if the voters do the right thing. It will take a new board with courage and brains to clean this mess up. The current one is too caught up in worrying about image. It's too late for that though. Joplin's reputation is shot to hell because of poor and dishonest management. I'd rather have my name attached to it as the person with the courage to stand up to these incompetents than the puppet who can only vote 7-0. Stupidity personified.

Anonymous said...

To be a new administrator, director, or TLC in R8 does not require brains, ethics, education, or a record of success. It only requires a willingness to scheme and backstab. That's why most of the good principals left and why no one but people who are unsuccessful and desperate to get out of the classroom are TLCs and new admin now. They've proven they will do ANYTHING to not do what they're telling the rest of us to do. Never trust anyone who works for Angie. She surrounds herself with her mercenaries for a reason. It's how she survives.

Anonymous said...

The MSBA and elected officials need to hear every day from Joplin patrons. When their jobs are at risk they'll feel like they better do what they're paid to do and become stewards of the public trust. Until then they have modest because they know their voters will keep on voting for them the same way the Board keeps supporting the corrupt administration at Joplin. It's called accountability and it's up to Joplin voters to get the job done. Don't like your money being wasted or stolen? Demand something better.

Anonymous said...

Huff and Besendorfer will be long gone by 2015. If allowed to stay, which they shouldn't be, they'll be there long enough to hog the cameras on opening days with the new buildings and then pack their bags and leave. They obviously don't care about learning or they would have changed the direction they're going a long time ago. They care about bragging rights for innovation and novelty. That's why they surround themselves with inexperienced fools. No one argues with them that way. Anyone with sense would not want to be attached to them. They will leave behind a completely broke and demoralized district. Morale cannot get any lower and neither can progress. But the city of Joplin allows it to continue because no one wants to admit anything is wrong. Pride goeth before a fall, and this district is about to collapse. It's on you, Joplin, for putting up with it for so long.

Anonymous said...

Sarah and Angie aren't smart. They're scheming and conniving. If they had any intelligence they could see what they're trying to do isn't working and they would self-correct. But they won't do that because they're too busy trying to cover their own tracks. Knowledge is not something they covet. They both crave power and one of them would sell her soul for pretty handbags and flashy jewelry. There is no substance whatsoever in any person connected with administration at MODOT. Anyone with any scruples and depth left years ago. Now it's all corrupt bullies.

Anonymous said...

Oh come on, while this is a bad situation, it ain't the end of the world and has a simple remedy. You see, all you have to do is enroll your kids in a year's worth of remedial classes at a Junior College where they can learn to read, and write, and do simple math, you know, the things they did not learn in public school. You see, the thing is, we look closely at graduation rates, however, we never look at the numbers of functionally illiterate people that are handed a diploma.

Anonymous said...

They already bought the swamp land, South middle school is setting on it. You should research that land deal some day.

Anonymous said...

The teacher turnover will be bigger than ever this year. They won't be able to give raises because they're broke, but they're planning to dump more work than ever on teachers next year. Enough already. Color us gone.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how CJ lays his head down on his little pillow at night knowing that his wasteful spending is taking much needed money out of the hands of old folks and little children. I'd cry too if that was on my conscience.

Anonymous said...

You know if you weren't so obviously snarky and rude when referring to most of the people included in this article I would have a much better chance of considering your opinion about the administration. But when I read the blog it is reminisint of the mean girls who bullied others in my high school. I see through your words and can read you like a book. Your words are so mean-spirited and ugly and written to degrade and humiliate the people you don't like. Therefore I can't believe anything that you write. It is sad that you don't see how you eliminate an entire section of Joplin who would like to be informed of the issues that may not be getting reported in the Globe. Everyone who comments already has an axe to grind. Most are probably ex-employees and/or their spouses. Turner you know EXACTLY what I am referring to in your blog. I can see you crafting your words with a sick satisfied smile. People that already don't like the admin will eat those vaguely concealed insults up. But the votes show that is a minority in the community. If you wanted to actually jump start a change in the R-8 district you need to reach those of us who haven't been negatively affected by the current admin. My daughter has had a wonderful education and she will be attending one of the best high schools in the country. She only has a few more weeks at the dog factory school then she gets to attend a brand new East and I am thrilled. I read your blog because I sense there may be a grain of truth in it but I am so turned off by the personal, non-relevant attacks you include that are clearly meant to hurt someone. I don't find you credible based solely on that part of your blog because you are so obviously biased. If you want to convince those who aren't already on your side take theses words to heart.

Anonymous said...

I don't think Randy is snarky & rude....I believe that Huff has a good heart, but got in over his head trying to be a good administrator dealing with Angie ....I believe that some of those people listed in the article are good, smart people...I for one like Sarah....the others I don't know except for one, but have heard things...hearsay won't hold up in court...but, something has to be done before the R8 District implodes...please don't criticize those who write anonymously as they may have really good reasons for remaining anonymous...so, 10:24 AM, don't make sweeping assumptions that those who write in are malcontents...this may be the first time they have had an opportunity to express what they have been through ...

Anonymous said...

How many times did he suggest that Angie is "old". Baby-faced cry baby Huff? How about the "only certified as an elementary teacher." These are 3 that I remember 6 hours after I read it. I can reread it and find 5 more digs that have NOTHInG to do with how the admin is doing. Not just this blog but every blog he has ever posted (about the R-8 school district) is filled with personal attacks that make me question what his real motive may be. And the commenters I am referring to are without a doubt a furious ex-employee or a current employee that is unhappy. I am one of the few people who doesn't hate Huff and his crew that bothers to read this blog.

A Mere Tithe of Non-Turner-Tards said...

Actually Anonymous 10:24 am is altogether correct. Turner got fired for good reason and nobody wants to hire him whatsoever because Turner will libel and defame them however possible.

Thus the Joplin R-8 administration and Board of Education get what amounts to a "free pass" because of Turner. Turner is the antibodies that is developed by the general public because with his half-truths, outright slanders, and sheer viciousness everyone thinks that yes, there is indeed a problem in that teachers, who academically and intellectually rate at the bottom of the professions, have the notion that they, as opposed to accountable elected and appointed teaching officials, get to determine curriculum and policy. Then given Turner censors most criticism and ridicule, the results are "cherry picked" on his ridiculous blogs.

With this comment, if allowed, there will be two out of twenty comments which are critical of Turner. Ninety percent Turner-Tards, a tithe non-TurnerTarded.

No, Turner is a guarantee of job security for Huff and Besendorfer, just as he was for Bruce Speck. As long as they don't get too arrogant like Speck did, they can be in charge for life.

Anonymous said...

10:24, I do not have an axe to grind with the Joplin School District. It did, however, take me a couple of years to actually realize that the educational content there was substandard. As a consequence, I moved my children to another District when they started High School which was an exercise not without considerable expense. Even with that, I had to put my youngest into a couple of Sylvan Programs because he was deficient in some pretty basic skills, primarily concerning reading comprehension and mathematics skills. I am thankful every day that we made that move. The only regret I have is the six/seven years they had to spend in the Joplin District. Now, in the spirit of full disclosure, this was before the current Administration came to town, but it does not appear that anything has changed.

Anonymous said...

3:46 am I Love the fact that you are calling someone else dumb. This coming from someone commenting at 3:46 am. I know, u know, we all know who is up at 3:46 am and it ain't the best and brightest.

Anonymous said...

I don't know what is wrong with your kids cause my kid is getting a top notch education and she is brilliant thanks to this school district. And btw if your kid isn't learning maybe it is the TEACHER and/or the PARENT, not the superintendent, you should be looking to when passing out blame.

Anonymous said...

People who crassly use hate language such as "tards" are hardly credible and certainly not respectable. Turner has evidence, much already published, for what he says. You may not like the truth, but it is what it is.

Anonymous said...

2:30--
Have you looked at the evidence? And I wonder how you would feel if you'd been treated like Turner? The truth will out, and you will feel as foolish as you look. If that many people are unhappy, could there not be some legitimate reason? As was shown with EVIDENCE on this blog? Too many people have been victimized by the current administration, and scores are not reflecting progress. Enrollment is down for a reason. The teacher turnover rate is so high that even the MSBA took notice. Facts may be inconvenient, and anger might be reflected, but with good reason. Like the myth while you can. The facts are becoming too plentiful to ignore.

Anonymous said...

2:53, better get your writing skills in order...that was the most ridiculous, imcomprehenisve comment I haveever read here..."a mere tithe of non-turner- trads" ? What on earth does that mean...doesn't even make sense...lay off the sauce & get your remarks under control...you sound about twelve years old ...

Anonymous said...

Your thoughts are irrelevant. Wait until your daughter gets to high school! I had rose colored glasses on too until my kids hit high school.

Anonymous said...

There are many of us who are very angry about the fact that our kids aren't learning as they should be, and that we are paying hundreds and thousands more in taxes for schools that are less efficient than they were not only before the tornado, but before the current administration implemented millions of dollars in initiatives and new employees. It hasn't paid off. They are not being held accountable for failing in their jobs. That is what public discourse is supposed to do--point out problems and demand that they be resolved.

Anonymous said...

10:24 You obviously are wearing rose colored glasses. You also obviously don't work for the district. I am a current employee who is scared to post my name because everything we do is being watched. This district actually feels like Big Brother is watching at all times. I think you are even one of VERY few parents who actually feels like your student is getting a good education. I love my job but hate what is going on in this district right now. Things have to change because we are sliding downhill fast!

2:53 Your comments are so unreadable. Sounds like you could have used a good writing teacher like Randy Turner.

If Turner is the Answer, It was a mighty Stupid Question said...

Here are the [Hate] facts:

All across the US school scores are dropping for a number of reasons. The #1 reason is the "Hate Fact" that non-whites have a much lower intelligence quotients and are violent as well as stupid. For the past decade, the elementary student population has been non-white majority. What few white kids are in school are dumbed down because in order to make the entire class pass as a whole, then the curriculum is watered down considerably. College aptitude scores, as a measure of how well universal public education prepares students for college admission, have been dropping since 1957, three years after Brown v Board of Education.

Then given the fact that teachers are pretty much the dregs of the undergraduate college classes, without much in the way of intelligence or ability and able to make it only because they are "politically correct" we have a situation in which the blind are leading the blind, or "Dumb and Dumberer".

Where Turner comes in is as a rogue teacher who got all mad because his enemies in the administration wouldn't do what he wanted, so he wrote a slanderous and dishonest novel which is admittedly pornographic, then encouraged his students to download that vicious book on one of his purported "teaching blogs." The fact that none of the students claim to have done so has nothing to do with Turner's violating school policies set by elected and appointed officials. Turner was duly terminated as a public school teacher and nobody wants to go through this sort of thing again over such as Turner. So Turner is finished in education, just as Turner was finished in journalism.

So ever since, Turner has much time on his hands to write even more criticisms of his enemies. Most of the lies of Turner are self-serving nonsense apparent on its face by the adult. Some of what Turner says might even be true, but it is irrelevant, given the realities of the decline in both the student body and in the overall community.

Whenever someone suggests simply doing away with the public school system as it exists altogether and seeking a means of privatizing it at lower cost to both the taxpayer and the time of the youth, then Turner has an even bigger cow. Turner has no solutions, other than to pretend that Turner should somehow be put in charge -- which nobody except Turner-Tards want to happen. There is no groundswell of opposition which will ever allow Turner to teach ever again.

The tornado tore down a number of buildings. The voters foolishly allegedly voted to restore things to how it used to be, when they should have used say, the Northpark Mall, and other stopgap measures which worked well enough. And I agree with Turner that there needs to be less school administration. Not a change in administration in favor of Turner, like Turner tiresomely insists, but rather a lessening of all the apparatus altogether, with school vouchers, privatizing, and home-schooling to lessen the costs and raise the output.

The solution will be found when the current system is no longer sustainable. There will be less giant school districts and less concrete poured. There might well be less grades as the schools are turned from being day-care facilities and tasked with teaching the fundamentals. There will be less administration, fewer teachers, and lower taxes.

So if Turner is the answer, then it was a mighty stupid question.

It's me again, Turner-Tards!!! said...

Anonymous 7:52pm:

The Board of Education decided that they needed no more of a writing teacher like Randy Turner.

They also decided that they could dispense with Turner's services as a Political "Science" or, God forbid, a sex-education teacher.

Not all of us could be "groomed" like you, 7:52.

I decided to drop in for my minimum daily requirements of importunate closeted liberal whining, 7:52.

Anonymous said...

9:21
I now know who you are...better go bed before your father gets home...or maybe practice on your singing career..better if you had kept your mouth shut...you are a silly little idiot who has no talent...go to bed honey...You have no right to comment on this sight...

BeccaSkittles said...

I am not a former or current employee and have not really ever been screwed over by this administration. I am, however, a former student of the district before C.J. Huff took over the superintendent position. I was iffy about the thought of sending my children to Joplin with the previous administration based on the quality of education and apathy of teachers alone. I would NEVER send my children under this administration based on FACTS AND EVIDENCE. So no, not everyone who dislikes the district was mistreated by them.

Anonymous said...

Financial numbers are one thing, graduation numbers are another, however, the main indicator of every thing that DR B is having this district do is supposed to raise the MSIP/MAP test scores, and Joplin, well, it ranks, out of 12 area school districts, last or in the bottom 3 in each MAP category. Here are the AYP Numbers, these are things that they hide:
Rank School District APR Score
1st Nixa 97.9
2nd Bolivar 97.1
.......
9th Webb City 87.5
10th Nevada 85.4
11th Carthage 85
12th Joplin 78.6

Here are some other numbers:
In the 3 year comparison from 2011-2013 for the MSIP 5 MAP Index Scores for English LA 3-8, Math 3-8
Joplin ranking out of 12 schools is last 2 years and next to last 1 year.
The 2013 MSIP 5/MAP Index Scores for 2012-2013 Joplin is tied with another area school for last out of 12.
Numbers speak for themselves. If teachers are not happy, kids are not happy. Kids not happy, parents not happy. Overall, non happy people will always equal low test scores, right?
Look at the scores when Dr. Jim Simpson was in the district. The board and its' upper administration is corrupt, voters and patrons of the district have to put a stop to it. Regardless if you like or dislike Randy Turner, the numbers that are presented do not lie.
These numbers should be a part of PART 2.

Anonymous said...

9:10 you are an extremely.vile racist...just what field does your KKK group meet in? You are one smug bastard...hope you are not on the R8 board or employed by the District...but,I bet you are...
10;14... Your daddy will not be re-elected....too bad you are such a arrogant little prig at your age...you face a life of rejection because you think you are so far above everyone...you are a sad little boy destined for nothing...