Friday, July 18, 2008

Personnel Moves Hard to Decipher

Those who are trying to figure out who's here and who's gone from the school district have several challenges.

First of all, new hires, resignations and retirements are spelled out on board agendas with names, but resolutions on terminations do not include names. State monitoring last year uncovered some invalid titles in the administration of former Schools Superintendent Paula Howard and others were found not to be qualified for their titles, so those individuals are gone. Then there is the matter of the recent new titles and how they correlate to those that were abolished.

In a way, one could say what does it matter who's gone, the task now is to create a strong team by the time school opens in September to serve that other main ingredient, the students. But of course any major shift of employees causes not only curiosity but even anxiety among those left (as witness Gannett Blog, where a former reporter and editor tracks recent personnel changes and other shifts in the company).

As someone commented, there is a teachers' union looking out for the interest of teachers and may I add, there is also a union for administrators. The school board has placed its trust in Dr. Gallon, but also has remedies in case that trust is not upheld. There are plenty of checks and balances all around, so perhaps the focus should shift away from the tumult of the 2007-08 school year and toward the opportunities of the 2008-09 school year.

It is not unreasonable to ask for an organizational chart that reflects changes for the 2008-09 school year. People want to know the echelons of responsibility for practical reasons. They want a matrix. Let us hope that soon a new chart will be produced and disseminated, so all parties can see where they stand. It could serve as a major way to clear the air that is currently fogged with worries and questions.

--Bernice Paglia


Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I may use a sports analogy, when your favorite team is in last place and the future looks dim, what would you most likely do? You'd probably call for the manager or coach to be fired!

The Plainfield Board of Education has "managed" our school district all the way to the bottom of the list of schools in the state, not only in student performance but in THEIR OWN performance (remember QSAC?). How many times do you want to be spoken down to at board meetings, how many deals have to be struck behind your backs, how many state reports must you read, how many of your questions must go unanswered before you realize what's happening?

Yet,the people of Plainfield have chosen to re-elect these same board members this year. You elected them if you actually voted for them, and you helped to elect them if you stayed home and didn't vote. And nearly 95% of voters in Plainfield didn't care enough to vote.

We paid tens of thousands of dollars for a "national search" and this is what we got: $198,000 paid to a person with no superintendent's experience, from one of the country's lowest performing school districts, who will now "earn while he learns." Do you want your 5-year old going to school in a building with 14-year olds? Please tell me if you know of ANY urban school district that's had success with this approach.

The list goes on. After two decades in this town, I'm still waiting for the good folks of Plainfield to send the message that needs to be sent. I feel so sorry for the wonderful children in Plainfield who are subjected to one "innovative strategy" after another. The agenda for each board meeting isn't the only agenda in Plainfield.

6:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problem in Plainfield is planning...the administrators know where they are working, but many teachers still don't have a clue...there are open holes from the terminations...( not enough money, it had to be saved for the new supervisors...) teachers were told they would be transfered and are still waiting...the job listings are for internal canidates only...which were caused by terminations...a good lawyer for someone would have a field day with this district....

9:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are correct in stating that many teachers do not know their assignments. Why isn't the teachers union doing anything about this? Isn't there something stated in the contract pertaining to notification of placement?

10:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As with the Briggs/Green team, the BOE needs to go. But that is easier said than done. Why? Good people have left the City and those that have stayed and those who would put the children first are not encouraged to participate. Why? They are not "players", people who are involved for patronage objectives. If the BOE were appointed by the mayor, voters would only have to vote the Green/Briggs out of office. But the personality of the BOE wouldn't change unless people with higher motives would run for office of the mayor and council. However, over the years the voters of Plainfield have been attracted to the least qualified. I wonder if the election of Annie McWilliams is indicative of a fed-up and more thoughtful electorate?

11:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While "there are plenty of checks and balances all around," the Plainfield BOE apparently hasn't used many of them over the past several years/superintendents. If they had, we would not be seeing 9 new principals trying to manage new schools/staffs/customs in 6 weeks (exclusive of vacation).

With all of the new titles and administrators it would be interesting to see how the admin/student ratio has trended over the past 10 years or so. Where do we stand with respect to other Abbott districts or regular New jersey districts.

12:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a teacher in Plainfield and have been so for a number of years. I do not know what school I will be teaching at next year or what grade I will be teaching. The only thing I know is that a lot of teaching positions have been changed due to the massive cuts in staff. At the end of the year my principal couldn't say for certain what position I would be in for next year (or whether I would be in my current school). It is the end of July and I would like to plan for my lessons, but the only problem is I don't know what grade I will be teaching! I also like to plan for my classroom set up, but how can I do this if I don't know what grade/subject? When will teachers be notified of their assignments, schools, and grade levels? It has been a very stressful summer for me and my fellow teachers living in this state on uncertainty.

2:41 PM  

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