Friday, September 26, 2008

Yeah, Neshaminy really stinks

From a press release on the Neshaminy district website:

This past summer Neshaminy High School was recognized at the PA. Governor's Institute on Financial Education. Mr. Paul Coleman, a Neshaminy High School teacher, represented the District as a teacher mentor.
The recognition was for Neshaminy High School’s performance on the National Financial Literacy Challenge in April given by the US Department of the Treasury. The test was administered to 46,000 high school students to coincide with April being National Financial Education Month. During the Institute, Mr. Coleman was informed that Neshaminy High School had more students score in the top 25% on the test than any other school in Pennsylvania and Neshaminy High School scores were among the best nationwide.

I think some of that is worth repeating . . .
Neshaminy High School had more students score in the top 25% on the test than any other school in Pennsylvania and Neshaminy High School scores were among the best nationwide!

Gee, can our days get any darker? This is awful . . . how embarrassing! I know, let's force out the superintendent responsible for this atrocity by undermining his every move.

Remote Participation

Should a school board member be allowed to participate in a meeting if they cannot be present physically? That issue is now being discussed by the Board Policies Committee based on my request. Although I am confident this measure will be passed on to the full board for a vote, it may meet with some opposition.

Although I have been in attendance for every board meeting since my election, there is always a chance that I may have to travel out of town because of my job, and I will not be able to attend a meeting in person. In such cases, I would like the option to participate in the meeting via telephone or video conference. Seems like a reasonable request, doesn't it? Corporations and non profit organizations conduct business every day with their board of directors via remote access, so why shouldn't Neshaminy? If we're boasting technology as part of our Classroom for the Future initiative, how can we not take advantage of a 19th century invention like the telephone?

While most of my fellow board members supported this idea and agreed that it be sent to Board Policies for development, some did not agree. They expressed a view that a board member should be physically present or else they should not be allowed to participate in a meeting. While I agree that being physically present at a meeting is always preferable, it's difficult to imagine in this day and age that anyone would deny an elected official the ability to use modern (or even not-so-modern) technology so that his/her voice can be heard.

I should also mention that the state supreme court is on my side with their ruling of Babac v. Pennsylvania Milk Marketing Board (Pa. 1992).

This issue will be discussed at the next Board Policies meeting on Wednesday, October 15th at 6pm in the Board Room at Maple Point. I would most sincerely appreciate some support from citizens who believe as I do, so I hope to see you there. In the meantime, you can chime in on this subject by completing the Readers Poll to the right.

Vote out micromanagers

That's the sentiment of Levittown resident Karen Gatewood in a letter-to-the-editor published in today's Courier Times. Ms. Gatewood says we are going to lose "one of our most beloved superintendents" because some school board members are undermining his efforts.

You can read all of Ms. Gatewood's letter by clicking here.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Pack your umbrellas

Going to NHS Back-to-School night? Heavy winds and rain are forecasted. If you haven't been up to the renovated builiding yet, you'll find out why a couple of spots are referred to as islands.

If inclement weather should lead to cancellation of tonight's event, I'll be sure to post an update on this blog later today.

I've got the Comcast blues

It's now Day 13 and my email service is still not functioning properly. The most frustrating aspect is that Comcast Tech Support has failed miserably when it comes to diagnosing the problem. Despite the very detailed problem report I submitted, the folks at Comcast just keep resetting my password and declaring the problem fixed. After two weeks worth of fruitless chats with inept staff, I finally made contact yesterday with someone at Comcast who actually listened. With fingers crossed, I'm giving them till Saturday to fix the problem before I officially freak out.

My sincere apologies to anyone who may have sent me an email but has not heard back from me. Please be patient. I'll update this blog when the problem has been fixed.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Take the show on the road?

In past years, school board meetings were held at different buildings in the district in an effort to make them more accessible to the public. But then came the cable tv rebroadcasts which made meetings available to anyone who couldn't come to the meetings in person, and so the meeting location has been fixed to the Board Room at Maple Point. The question is should we be moving board meetings to different buildings as we did in the past or should we keep them at Maple Point?

Those in favor of moving the meetings around would say it's a great way to ensure that board members actually visit the various buildings in the district, and it would make meetings more accessible for those who can't always trek in to Maple Point.

Opponents of the idea claim that much time and money has been put into improving the quality of the broadcasts from Maple Point, and there would be a decrease in the broadcast quality if we move the meetings to other locations. Besides that, the whole point of the rebroadcasts was to accommodate those people who couldn't make it to the meetings.

What do you think? Please vote in the Readers Poll over on the right side, then feel free to add your comments to this post.

How to improve student safety

Involvement — that's what Neshaminy School District “citizens” told Superintendent Paul Kadri Friday when asked for ideas on how to improve student safety.

Click here to read the rest of this Courier Times article.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Another jam along the info highway

My email has not been working since the weekend. The service provider is looking into the problem and I hope to have emails working again soon.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

It’s déjà vu all over again

Neshaminy residents got a scare earlier this year when it was learned that Superintendent Paul Kadri was interviewing for a job in Michigan. Even though Kadri didn’t get that job, our collective sigh of relief was short-lived. As is reported in today’s Courier Times, Kadri is the finalist in a job search for another school district.

Much of Kadri's statement to the Courier was cut due to size limitations of the article. Here is what Kadri said in its entirety:

"On Tuesday, September 9, 2008, I notified the Board of Education that I am a finalist for a Superintendent’s position in another district. As many know, the process through which a Superintendent applies for a position and a Board hires a Superintendent often becomes public prior to anything being finalized. That is the situation in this case.

Since this information may come as a surprise to some, I thought a brief explanation might be in order. I have tremendous respect for all who make up the Neshaminy community. The students, staff, parents and community members are genuinely wonderful people who care as deeply about students as I do. Over the past two plus years we have been able to achieve much success in helping to strengthen the present condition of the school system and position it for success in the future.

When I was originally hired in the District the Board asked me to: (1) focus on improving the financial situation in the District, (2) focus on improving test scores at the high school; and (3) ensure that politics did not penetrate the hiring process or any other decisions made in the District. I believe that we have been very successful in these areas.

With regard to strengthening our financial situation, our budgets over the past two years have not only met Act 1 limits, but this year’s budget is actually less than last year’s. This would have resulted in a tax decrease, but for the fact that the savings were used to replace the use of our reserves that were allocated a few years ago to fill a budget gap in revenues.

I am very proud of everyone’s efforts to improve high school achievement. Our double digit increases this past spring in high school achievement scores are nothing short of amazing. It is wonderful that these gains were shared both with general education students and those with special needs. Being recognized as having the third largest improvement in high school reading in the Philadelphia region is a remarkable accomplishment.

I am very proud of all those in the District who have consistently made decisions with the best interest of students and community in mind. I am also very, very proud of our continuing effort to keep our students safe over these past couple of years. One cannot guarantee that a tragedy will not occur, but everyone has committed to deeply caring for the welfare of our students each and every day.

The Board and I have been divided over the direction and expectations of the District. The Superintendent serves to move a district in the direction established by the Board. It is important that both the Superintendent and Board share similar expectations and priorities; and lacking those similarities, it is in my and the Board’s best interest that I move on to another school district.

The Board and I regret that the process of my seeking a position with another district will become public. The Board and I will be certain that my position seeking will not become a detrimental distraction to the District. The Board and I will continue to work cooperatively and in the best interest of the School District, the students and staff and the entire Neshaminy community until such time as I am selected to another position."

Despite a successful educational and financial year, Kadri may be on the move. This could be your last chance to tell him how you feel.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Setting the record straight

Bill Spitz' guest opinion in today's Courier went after the newspaper's reporting of our PSSA scores by saying "It is obvious from both the headline and the article itself that the newspaper was trying to generate controversy; but it reflected a deep misunderstanding of the meaning of the districtwide AYP designations."

You can read all of what Spitz said by clicking here.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Shedding light on our darkest days

Confused by the debate over PSSA scores? The Neshaminy SPIN (School Parent Information Network) will feature a presentation by Superintendent Paul Kadri at their September 16th meeting at the high school auditorium beginning at 7pm. Kadri will explain how AYP tells only a fraction of the story behind Neshaminy’s PSSA performance. Even if you think you understand PSSA’s and AYP, you are encouraged to attend this presentation so you can gain a proper perspective on our results and separate fact from fiction.

A not-so hidden agenda
In case you missed the letter in yesterday’s Courier Times, click here to read what a Middletown resident said about power struggles, board bullying, and an “agenda to push Kadri out of the district.”