Sunday, June 21, 2015
Teachers can't bring their own, but taxpayers pay for fan for Sarah Stevens' office
The district needed to make cuts, we were told, and we were asked for our suggestions. Nearly every teacher at East and some I talked to from other buildings suggested we get rid of Acuity, a testing program that cost Joplin R-8 approximately $50,000 a year. Under Acuity, we were forced to give eight practice standardized tests taking away valuable teaching time. The only people who wanted this system were administrators who thought, wrongly, that having these tests would enable us to game the system \and improve scores.
Some teachers recommended that we cut down on the enormous amount of travel and meetings that teachers were being required to attend, many of which included meals paid for by the taxpayers.
When the results arrived, the Huff Administration thanked us for our input and said they were following our recommendation- that the district would no longer allow teachers to bring their own personal microwave ovens, or fans, or electric coffeepots. I found it hard to believe that any teacher thought of this as a way to make a big impact on the budget. That was the only step taken to reduce spending.
Apparently, this rule did not apply to people in Huff's Administration. Among the items included in the bills that will be submitted to the Joplin R-8 Board of Education for its approval Tuesday night is one from Wal-Mart for $39.92 for a fan for Curriculum Director Sarah Stevens' office.
At least when the teachers were bringing in appliances to use, they were not asking the taxpayers to foot the bill for those appliances.
The $39.92 is a minor amount, of course, but the kind of money that the district is spending or may end up spending due to Stevens' recommendations is no laughing matter.
The Board of Education heard a heartfelt plea two months ago from Stevens and carefully handpicked teachers (all but one of whom had only been in the district for a short time) for a $300,000 testing system that appears to simply be a more expensive version of Acuity and one which adds practice standardized tests for grades K-2. If there were any way that the board could have been consulted veteran teachers, those teachers would have pointed out that Acuity never worked and that by administering so many practice tests you are taking away from class time that would better prepare the students for MAP, Common Core, Missouri Learning Standards, or whatever they end up deciding to call it.
The recommendation to spend the $300,000 came from the same $100,000 a year consultant, Paul Bloomberg of Core Collaborative, that the board rejected last month, but apparently will consider again Tuesday night.
Of course, what goes unmentioned is that the only way Stevens, who has no background in curriculum and was promoted far beyond her capabilities (the district has had to hire someone with that curriculum background to be her assistant) can do her job is by bringing in expensive consultants to do it for her.
The $39.92 for the Wal-Mart fan was not the only interesting item in the monthly bills:
-$1,035.99 to the Joplin Globe to advertise for an assistant director (I am not sure what job this was for, but it could very well have been for the assistant to Sarah Stevens.).
-$3,199 to Guin Mondorf, Kansas City for legal services
-$103 to Granny Shaffer's for breakfast for Bright Futures partners
-$129 to Papa John's for pizza for the administrative move
-$224.37 to the Rib Crib for $224.51 for a meal for the moving crew
$145.94 to Schlotzsky's for a meal for the May 26 Board of Education meeting
-$70 to Wal-Mart for "candy for meetings"
$3,040 to Collins, Webster, and Rouse for legal services
-$11,187.50 to Northpark Mall for rent for the mall high school building
-$500 for five police officers to provide security at the Joplin High School graduation
-$111,80 to Corwin Press for books on Common Core Language recommended by consultant Paul Bloomberg of Core Collaborative
-$14,600 consulting fee to Core Collaborative
-$5,686.14 to Storm Stanley advertising agency for advertising for Franklin Tech
-$1,078 for six people- Sarah Stevens, Jason Cravens, Eric Pitcher, Hope Strasser, Nicole Warfield, and Rayma Taylor to attend Instructure.com, which was held this weekend in Park City, Utah.