Tuesday, July 28, 2015
Winners and losers from tonight's Board of Education meeting
Flies- Despite Board President Jeff Koch and Interim Superintendent Norm Ridder's efforts at making the Olympic Synchronized SWAT team, no flies were injured during the making of this meeting. (There was a lot of buzz surrounding the meeting)
Norm Ridder- The folks at Mehlville where Norm Ridder was interim superintendent last year praised Ridder for telling the truth without sugarcoating it. That quality was on display tonight as he quickly and succinctly related some of the problems he had seen during his first week in charge. After seven years of celebrations, half-truths, and occasional baldfaced lies (to use one of former Joplin City Manager Mark Rohr's favorite expressions), hearing the plain truth spoken was refreshing.
Debbie Fort- When Ridder said that part of the problems with the system were due to the tornado, but that it was not a major factor, it reminded me of Fort's comment during the 2014 board forum, when she said she was sick of blaming everything on the tornado. We have all been sick of that and it looks like we may start putting the tornado in our past instead of continually wallowing in it. (Perhaps I shouldn't have written that since Silver Lining in a Funnel Cloud is all about the tornado and John Hacker and I are working on a book for next year and the five-year anniversary.)
Teachers- Judging from Ridder's statements tonight, it appears teachers' needs will be considered instead of those of the never-ending stream of executive directors and learning/teaching coaches and their high-priced, con artist consultants. Another refreshing change.
Board of Education- The board had a smooth, professional meeting. People may not agree with everything the board decided, but the people's business was no longer relegated to being a sideshow.
Randy Turner- During a break in the meeting, Ridder introduced himself to KZRG's Joe Lancello and me. When he heard my name, he did not even reach for a cross.
Viewers on JET HD, YouTube, and the Turner Report- After the recent four and a half hour board meetings, from the time the official meeting started until its conclusion was 53 minutes. Ridder kept his promise of keeping meetings to 90 minutes or less.
Taxpayers- Ridder promised transparency and one of the first things he is going to do is to have all salaries posted on the district website. That's a good first step.
C. J. Huff- As a result of his severance agreement with the district, board members cannot say anything bad about the former superintendent (fortunately, I am willing to step into the breach), but if you take Norm Ridder's assessment of the district's problems as gospel, Huff's single-minded, self-centered, narcissistic time in charge, especially after he was anointed as the "hero" of the Joplin Tornado, has left this district in a mess, one that Ridder noted "is going to take longer than I initially thought" to get back into shape.
Tina Smith- That must have been some salary committee she and board member Lynda Banwart were on since we discovered tonight that there is no salary schedule for administrators. That makes me wonder other things. How did the committee decide if administrators were making above market value. Did they call other school districts to find out what their executive directors are making? And how about those teaching/learning coaches? Did they call the CIA to find out how much they are paid? (Or is it top secret?) The one I want to know is who they called to find out how much the market will bear for highly unqualified chief operations officers. I wonder if they were in touch with area school districts to check on how much to pay events coordinators or Bright Futures directors.
Day Care Operators- The district's decision to move full speed ahead on building an early childhood center is going to result in considerable damage to Joplin's day care operators.
Mike Landis and Randy Steele- Who needs them?
Find out what the Joplin Globe has not been telling you about the Joplin R-8 School District and the City of Joplin. Silver Lining in a Funnel Cloud: Greed, Corruption, and the Joplin Tornado, is available locally at Always Buying Books and Changing Hands Book Shoppe in Joplin and Pat's Books in Carthage. The book is also available in paperback and e-book formats from Amazon.com.