Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Security upgrades

This summer most if not all the De Pere schools had their access control systems upgraded.   The work was done my ESG.  It may have not gone as smooth as it should have, but they are not the only ones making mistakes.

Over the weekend there was a small power interruption in De Pere.  This caused the fire department to receive a false call from Foxview.  (Apparently the thing doesn't have batteries)

Here is the more massive error, on the district's part.  Someone forgot to give the fire and police department a new fob/access card so they can get into the building in the event of an emergency.  And whats more is the physical key in the knox box no longer fits the door.

So while it sounds nice on paper and maybe provides some sort of assurance when part of the referendum dollars is allocated to "security upgrades", in reality is means little when those in charge don't take responsibility.

Thank god this was a false alarm type of thing to bring this issue up.  

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Petty stuff

I see no fundamental difference between these two situations;

Staff that throws out/takes home aluminum cans

Staff that throws out items on the lost and found table at the end of the year.

In neither situation the items are the districts, nor does anyone have the permission from the real owners to take/dispose of the items. It's a case of abandon property, covered by common law.

Again the real issue is making a mountain out of a mole hill = admin not having better things to do.  Really all that comes from this is distrust with your supervisors. 

In both situations it costs the district money to deal with the abandon property.  They pay to get rid of their recyclables/trash and or take the stuff somewhere.

In neither case; can the district claim theft.  The didn't own the stuff, and suffered no economic loss from the stuffs removal.

It reminds me of a situation a few years back where an employee had permission from the wood shop teacher to take home scrap wood to burn.  The "director of buildings and grounds" gets on the guy about this.  And then takes the scrap wood home himself.

At least in that case the wood might be the districts property (though that can maybe argued as most of that is paid for by student project fees), where as the aluminum cans were not.  Either way its all pretty stupid.  As if these admin are saints and never borrow district property etc.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Conflict of interest explained.

The guys wanted me to ask you if the guy that is the president of the school board, Paul S********* runs Aurora. And everything with the school is Aurora (nurse, health fair, flu shots) is that conflict of interest?

Me: I think as long as he abstains from voting on anything related to that its fine. Like Dan Van S****** abstained from voting on the support staff raise because his wife is a health aide for example.  And obviously Shelly T***** being the curriculum director really doesn't have any direct say for any work awarded to Thomas Electric.

Me: I still don't like it, but I think that is how it can be acceptable per the board bylaws/policies.  Basically there is a whole lot of circle-jerk, you scratch my back, I'll scratch your stuff that goes on that doesn't necessarily always lead to a fair rendering of services in my opinion.

Me: Paul S********* can't propose/vote an Aurora Heath fair for example, but he tells someone else too. And if Shelly T***** was on the board, he'd say if you do that for me, I'll suggest we hire Thomas electric for those jobs since she wouldn't be able too. As an example of how the big picture works.
"No employee shall engage in or have a financial interest, directly or indirectly, in any activity that conflicts or raises a reasonable question of conflict with his/her duties and responsibilities in the school system"
The key loophole word is "engage" if you haven't figured it out.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Actions speak louder than words

Back in November 2014 I noticed a couple of administrative staff members received bonuses from reading the school board minutes.  This has never happened in the history of De Pere school district and I was curious to the rationale behind the decision, especially in light of receiving a 2% raise that year that worked out to an insulting 20 cents.

So I researched the various board members, and decided to contact the clerk, who also made an appearance that year for education week held in November in our building.  He seemed like an approachable guy.

My initial impression of his response was a bit to touchy-feely for me.  Heavy emphasis along the lines of "Let me assure you that the board and district cares what you do and you are valued... For what its worth, we can't do a damn thing without you."  Blah-blah...

Now to the part relating to my question/concern:

"As you know, and as you made mention to, the salary increases have been frozen, then reinstated to a minimum over the last several years.  As our funding from the state has decreased, we have had to made adjustments and changes in the way we operate.  Slowly, those funds are returning and we are able to show wage increases, thanks to budget work within the district..."

"Now in regards to bonuses, this is something we are looking at in all areas of the district.  I do feel at times if an individual is going about and beyond their normal duties we can support something in the way of a bonus...."

"In this particular case, I felt, along with others, that a bonus was justified.  We are reviewing this with all employees moving forward.  We want to recognize and reward those individuals who have exceeded expectation...."

Almost a year later and no other bonuses have issued to anyone that I can see from reviewing board minutes.

An open records request shows administration received a 4.4 % raise for the 2014-15 school year when compared to data for 2013-14.  Yet the October 20, 2014 school board agenda indicates Support Staff, Teaching Staff, and Administrative Staff salary increases were made the same day, and on all three report 2%.

I had a lot of other dialog with this board member, and unfortunately it all pretty much followed the same district theme of image before accountability.   Suffice to day, I wasn't really impressed with the guy unfortunately, as he gave me a pretty strong indication that he didn't want to hear anymore of what I had to say.

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Lift Part 2

The Lift - Part 2

Back in 2011 the Grounds Department rented a scissor lift.

This summer at the Middle School, it was pointed out to Edith that at the very top of the gym on the air duct work it is excessively dusty.

Each building has a one man lift, which doesn't get you all the way to top of the gym.  So it seems logical every so many years (7?) when the gym floor is to be sanded down in lue of just the normal finishing, that a decent lift should be rented as that sanding makes a royal mess.

It was also pointed out that a number of the halogen lights were out in the Middle school gym.  She called Thomas Electric (the Curriculum Director's husbands company), and she said they have their own lift, but it will not fit though a standard door.  And went on to state that it's odd that the mullion wasn't removable as many other places in the building it is.

Edith said she arranged with Dan Bins to rent a lift.  (Dan no longer works with Fred Rents, and is now with Sunbelt Rentals of De Pere.)

Thomas Electric shows up and the lift has problems, so they have to get another one.

There is a removable mullion on one of the Gym doors.

Some things never change. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Redbird logo debacle of 2005

Alright so we all know the Director of Technology screwed up.

But does anyone remember the 2005 debacle with the Redbird mascot logo?

De Pere received a cease-and-desist order on the grounds that its mascot was copyrighted material of Illinois State University.  The school eventually redesigned the logo so as to not violate the copyright.

Shortly after the De Pere athletic director started in the late 90's he modernized the Redbird.  When really he should have know the ramifications of that action.