Thursday, November 12, 2015

Documents; C. J. Huff asked federal government for nearly $4 million for Bright Futures

Documents obtained under a Freedom of Information Act request reveal that the C. J. Huff Administration wanted taxpayers to pay $3.9 million to expand Bright Futures.

The proposal, included as a supplemental request in the Joplin R-8 School District's 2012 Race to the Top application, would have added 18 full-time jobs, as well as five full-time Vista employees and would have covered marketing costs to sell  Bright Futures and three of its programs, Operation College Bound, the Reading Initiative, and Service Learning, to the public.

Four of the employees would have been paid at least $50,000 a year, with five others receiving more than $40,000 annually

All of the employees, except those from the Vista program, would have been paid more than $30,000 annually.

The Huff Administration's plan would have created bureaucracies within bureaucracies with teams of employees working for Operation College Bound, the Reading Initiative, and Service Learning.

The pitch to the U. S. Department of Education began with the claim that has yet to be proven that Bright Futures  increased the graduation rate at Joplin High School.

The Bright Futures program provides a path for communities to engage everyone in a collective
movement to develop relationships and channel resources supporting education, enabling children to achieve success. Bright Futures believes in the inherent worth of every child, and that every child’s basic needs must be met in order for that child to learn effectively. Bright Futures also believes every community has the resources to meet the needs of every child in a collaborative effort.

Bright Futures started as a reaction to poor graduation rates. One out of every four students
in Joplin, Missouri dropped out of high school and did not reach graduation. A mandate from the 
Joplin Schools Board of Education in the spring of 2010 challenged Dr. CJ Huff, the new 
superintendent, to increase the graduation rates. Like so many communities across the country, 
many Joplin students struggled with poverty and often a lack of parental involvement. Teachers 
spent much of their time and often their own money trying to meet students’ basic needs. It became evident that to meet the strategic goal of graduating more Joplin students, their most basic needs would have to be met first.

First, low graduation rates were identified as a community issue, not just a school issue. For the
Joplin community to thrive, the schools would need to supply citizens who would thrive. Solving the problem would take a community effort. Second, Joplin Schools engaged the community through several meetings and school visits to openly share the challenges faced by students, families, and teachers. This allowed the school to identify existing community resources.

Admitting to problems and asking for help was an uncomfortable but necessary step. Finally, Joplin Schools worked with the community to develop Bright Futures to connect community resources with students and families in need through the school system. Initially, a grant from the Economic Security Corporation of Southwest Missouri funded a position within the schools to act as a liaison between the school and community groups.

Within the first year, unexpected and exciting results occurred. The dropout rate decreased. Attendance increased. Student and staff morale improved, too. Student needs were successfully met through a rapid response system, often within a 24 hour period through social media outlets.

As the program evolved in Joplin, discussion of success spread. Several nearby districts expressed interest in applying the Bright Futures framework in their communities. In February 2011, the non-profit organization Bright Futures USA was established using the successful framework from Bright Futures Joplin. By the end of 2011, five affiliate communities were using the framework through Bright Futures USA to effectively tackle poverty and close achievement gaps in their communities. Bright Futures USA continues to share this framework with schools and communities in the region, with the goal of reaching schools and communities Nationwide.

With the support of the school and community, the Bright Futures program provides a creative 
framework for successful implementation in any community.

Because Bright Futures Joplin is an innovative framework with proven successful implementation in neighboring communities, Joplin Schools is seeking funding for further development. It is the goal of Bright Futures Joplin to make connections for success. Through community engagement, relationship development, channeling resources, and meeting basic needs, Bright Futures Joplin supports the achievement of students and the mission of schools. 

Bright Futures Joplin will promote student success by implementing programs to support successful and meaningful post-secondary education. Specifically, Bright Futures Joplin is seeking to do this through software development, the creation of new programming, and implementation of existing programming.

In its request for the basic Bright Futures program, the Huff Administration asked for "only" $454,972, including $40,000 apiece for an "agency recruiting coordinator" and a "website development specialist." Another $9,100 was requested for "kickoff events," and $20,565 for marketing materials.

The Huff Administration submitted a $1,887,643 request for Operation College Bound and the Reading Initiative, with the promise that the district would spend $5,000 on the program.

The nearly $1.9 million proposal featured $1,118,000 to cover the cost of nine full-time positions over a four-year period, including the following:

-$50,000 a year for the person to implement Operation College Bound
-$50,000 a year for someone to create an Operation College Bound curriculum
-$46,000 a year for three years for a person to work with high school guidance counselors
-$36,000 a year to handle testing of kindergarten students to see how well prepared they are to begin school
-Three $36,000 a year employees to recruit and train volunteers
-$40,000 a year for someone to collaborate with and to recruit area partners
-$32,000 for someone "to educate the community on the research-based importance of students reading at grade level and how that translates to future success."

The request also included $423,723 for e-readers, $56,350 for marketing materials for Operation College Bound and $36,450 for marketing materials for the Reading Initiative.

The request for the service learning program included seven full-time employees and the five Vista employees.

The Huff Administration asked to hire three "internal service learning coordinators" with each receiving $52,000 a year, to "implement service learning curriculum at the elementary, middle school, and high school levels."

Another $41,500 a year apiece would be spent for two "external service learning coordinators," who would "educate the community on service learning and recruit partners." Those positions would have been for two years, with the first year spent educating the community and the second year recruiting partners.

Two membership coordinators would have been hired at $32,000 a year to "implement a high school mentoring program to coordinate with existing mentoring programs."

The Huff Administration asked for $36,392.88 for travel expenses to go to the National Service Learning Conference, $26,625 for brochures, posters, and other marketing materials and $19,200 for "mentorship program events" including events to "promote awareness and participation in student mentorship."

The Department of Education rejected the Huff Administration proposal.

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Anonymous said...

More conclusive proof that any priblem can be solved with CJ 's brain and your money.

Anonymous said...

Dear Leader could have had a real PR operation had this been approved.

Anonymous said...

If I remember correctly, the entire Race to the Top application (or possibly one submitted a different year?) was rejected by the Department of Education because it was not complete and/or did not provide necessary documentation. Does anyone else recall this happening? Has the district ever received any money from Race to the Top? If not, why not? Randy, do you have any information about this?

Anonymous said...

1:43 AM: I read and skimmed the Feds' rejection of one of these Race to the Top applications, and it was devastating. Huff's methods of "managing" teachers was entirely incompatible with the Race to the Top requirements, and there was some apparent incompetence in other parts, although if the people actually doing the work of making the application knew it was fundamentally doomed I can see them putting in much less than a 100% effort. I'm not sure why they the district even tried, besides Huff ordering it, and, as we've been told, someone pointing out the problems could have easily gotten themselves fired or demoted.

Anonymous said...

Didn't the Bright Futures folks pay him a hefty amount not long ago for his wonderful expertise in grant writing?

Anonymous said...

Great story about something that didn't happen. Other than your hatred for CJ Huff (which I am not a fan of CJ) what's the purpose of the article?

Anonymous said...

Wow 10:11 for something that you say didn't happen, there are a lot of facts stated in this article, either Mr. Turner has a vivid and detailed imagination or you are a fan of Huff...nobody can make this stuff up...

Anonymous said...

@11:25 They mean that the grant didn't get funded by saying it didn't happen, not that the grant wasn't applied for. The main takeaway I get from the article is that the man hired for his ability to bring money into Bright Futures has a poor track record of bringing money into Bright Futures....

Anonymous said...

Yawn, the flame dwindles