Tuesday, June 23, 2015
High-priced consultants rejected again; Nodler casts deciding vote
When her pet consultant, the Core Collaborative, was voted down tonight by a 4-3 margin, it would not have surprised anyone if she had stamped her foot and left in a huff (or better yet, stamped her foot and left with a Huff).
Last month, the board voted 3-2 not to pay $103,000 to rehire Core Collaborative for a second year with Lynda Banwart and Mike Landis voting "yes" and Jeff Koch, Debbie Fort, and Jennifer Martucci casting "no" votes.
Koch, Fort, and Martucci did not change their minds. Banwart and newcomers Sallie Beard and Ron Gatz voted to bring back the consultant.The deciding vote was cast by the other new board member Gary Nodler.
Stevens, the district's curriculum director, was backed by a who's who of the C. J. Huff Administration, including Executive Director of Secondary Education Jason Cravens, Executive Director of Elementary Education Jennifer Doshier. Executive Director of Special Services Mark Barlass and Executive Director of Sitting There Silently Bud Sexson. There were more executive directors in the room than you could shake a stick at (if that's your idea of having fun).
As each pleaded the case for bringing back consultant Paul Bloomberg's group, Nodler was skeptical. The former state senator had checked out Core Collaborative. "I take this to be Common Core implementation," he said, clearly catching Stevens off guard.
Oh, no, no, a thousand times no. It wasn't Common Core. Bloomberg did that at other schools. (It's Missouri Learning Standards here.) "That's not what we're doing," Stevens said.
Core Collaborative charged $100,000 this year to teach the staff Visible Learning, a concept through which students take charge of their own learning and teachers serve as tour guides.
Stevens and her backup singers attempted to blind Nodler and the rest of the board with the best jargon $100,000 could buy. And, in tact, as the Huff Administration was always looking out for the taxpayer, they came back with a bargain price. Instead of having Core Collaborative for 30 days for $103,000, Bloomberg would cut off a few days and only charge $87,000,
"That seems like a pretty high price to me," Nodler said. The executive directors were stunned. You could see them thinking it. "Eighty seven thousand dollars a high price? Doesn't the new guy realize this is the Joplin School District?"
Nodler said. "This has become a cookie-cutter process with a guru."
"It's a process," executive director of Soaring Heights (or principal) Teresa Adams said, as executive director of Sitting There Silently Bud Sexson nodded sagely.
When board member Jennifer Martucci suggested that R-8 teachers could be better off providing the professional development themselves and would have more buy-in, Koch quickly agreed and Debbie Fort noted that the money that is earmarked for professional development could be spent in that fashion.
Executive Director of Secondary Education Jason Cravens did not think that was such a good idea. Teachers were too tired to want to make extra money, he insisted with a straight face.
When the executive directors insisted the teachers and principals were not ready and needed Bloomberg to guide them through another year, Nodler was not buying any of it. "You don't need a consultant to hold your hand."
The teachers certainly don't. But you never can tell about those executive directors.