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.


KClarinet said...

I have more than once recently let Mr. Kadri know in private correspondence how highly I think of his accomplishments here in Neshaminy. I hope he sees a lot of approval here on the blog in the next few days.

I have a question for Mr. O'Connor and any other Board members who may read this blog. I sensed, especially during last month's (Neshaminy's Darkest Day) meeting, an increased level of support for Mr. Kadri among a majority of the Board. Was this a fair indication of things to come if Mr. Kadri could be prevailed on to stay in Neshaminy, or was it just a reaction to the behavior of Mssrs. Eccles, Webb and Koziol and not an indication of possibly greater future cooperation between the Board majority and the Superintendent?

I must be living in Jersey said...

If there is any way you can get him to stay, do it! Extend his contract. Do whatever you must. Don't let these other guys achieve their goal of running this district into the ground.

NHS Mom said...

This will be our darkest day if Kadri leaves. He is a breath of fresh air with new visions for our kids, etc. No one can work under those conditions. I hope he finds what he needs but heaven help Neshaminy. Who would want to come to this place with the mess that we are in? I hope this board doesn't hire a puppet.

William O'Connor said...

The following comment was submitted by Linda

The darkest day for Neshaminy school district will be if we lose Mr. Kadri. He is a fine professional and has only our school district and all of the students best interests in mind. I understand why he is seeking opportunities elsewhere. Members of our school board monopolize the school board meetings with their alternate agendas and bullying techniques. It is obvious their agenda is not the same as his. I use the last meeting as a perfect example- 3 1/2 hrs of nonsense, bullying and pointing fingers. It is disappointing to see this type of behavior from our elected members of the board. In my opinion there are 3 members who need to leave their alternative agendas at the door before they enter the meeting or maybe they need to be asked to step down from their positions.
Being a representative of this community on the school board should be considered a privilege and should be taking seriously. My understanding of this forum is to assist with making improvements to our school district. If that is not the agenda of the members maybe its time for them to go.
I thank you, Dr. Spitz and Mrs. Cummings for all the good work you attempt to do. It is time for other members of this board to step up to the plate and support Dr. Kadris efforts before we lose a valuable member of the Neshaminy school district. I hope it's not too late.

sk.langhorne said...

NHS Mom brings up a good point about a puppet replacement. Is Kadri leaving the end of their plot or is it only the beginning? All residents should be asking what's next. You and the other 5 board members better come up big now Mr. O'Connor. You all didn't do enough to protect Kadri. Now you have to step up for our children.

teachermom said...

If Mr. Kadri does leave Neshaminy, that will surely be Neshaminy's darkest day! From day one, this man has done nothing but positive things in this district. I am most impressed at how he continues to fight for more technology in the district, especially by improving the district website. Because of him, parents are finally able to access most students assignments and grades online. What impresses me most about him though, is how he attends so many school functions. I have seen him at new student orientations, back to school nights, school musicals, etc. The previous superintendent did absolutely nothing. Oh, right, he did manage to get credit for a few years he spent in California, I believe, from our taxpayers so he could retire even earlier from doing nothing. My oldest child started kindergarten in this district in 1994 and I do not remember any superintendent being as involved in the district as Mr. Kadri has been in the last two years.
But I guess that is what the three board members from Levittown want: a puppet to further their agenda. Voters from these areas, pay attention! Too much is at stake for Mr. Kadri to leave. Those three board members need to be shown the door and Mr. Kadri should be given the support he deserves!

JS said...

To Sk.langhorne,

The scary part is that there is word that the person previously "promised" to be bumped up to Superintendant will get the job. They had an inside confirmation until a real Superintendant put his name in, Kadri, and obviously had to be chosen instead.

I guarantee you that as long as those three egos keep taking charge of the board, alternative agendas will be all that you get. As others have said, it is time for the rest of the board to step up and take the reigns.

Levittowner said...

Mr. Kardi,
Good luck with your new job. You did what you could here, and I don't blame you for leaving.
I am not optomistic about our district's future.
Citizens of Levittown..we get what we helped sow by continuing to elect Eccles and Webb via either not voting at all or voting for them.

It's a darn shame said...

I am very concerned about the "Personnel Committee" attempting to be formed by Webb, Koizol and Eccles. They continue to push this agenda which has me wondering how many other Retired Teachers' (aka Campaign Managers’) daughters will be given promotions that others are more qualified for. And goodness knows what else. Certainly these power plays do our children a disservice. I'll never forget the meeting last year where after many hours and much careful consideration by Mr. Kadri and his staff, the most qualified, best fit person was recommended for a very important position, only to be promptly voted down by these three and a few others who thankfully have left the board.

Please let's not let this "Committee" become a reality. We have already seen the harm that can come WITHOUT one.

sportsfan said...

I think the "It's deja vu all over again" was a Yogi Berra quote. Yogi Berra was famous for saying things that make no sense but then when you examine it carefully it does make some sense. Those are called "Yogisms". Here at Neshaminy some board members say things that make no sense and when you examine it carefully, still make no sense.

We wish Mr. Kadri the best of luck. He was too smart and too good for the Neshaminy community. Everyone will suffer. The households with Neshaminy students, those kids in private school and those with no kids in school. Everyone will will feel the pain. Kadri tried to lead us in the right direction but some board members would not allow it.

"If you don't know where you are going, you will wind up some place else" - Yogi Berra

Pianomom said...

I am so numb over this I don't know what to say. The poll on the main page says 96% of readers believe our pssa scores are positive. I'll bet the same percent of parents think Kadri is a great superintendent. But with 33% of our board out to undermine him, our children will be deprived of his visionary leadership. I don't understand why the rest of the board waited so long before supporting Kadri against these childish antics.

Redskins said...

No one should be surprised that he was looking elsewhere (especially since this is our second time with it). My concern is all this "sky is falling" talk...regardless of who the next superintendent is, the person must work with this board and the board must work with that person. The community must also support the person. Just because Kadri is gone doesn't mean he didn't leave his mark on the district. Many good things are moving forward and I would hate for the board to have another great idea of hiring a "maverick" to stop the momentum. Let the district continue what Kadri started.. Scores are up at the high school (a first in at least 4 years) and the budget was reasonable...does that ever happen? There must be a good internal candidate that can assume the ship...move that person up and hire a assistant super for curriculum and mold that person to take over in the future. Not to remind people of all the crazy times ahead, but teachers still have no contract, there is talk of closing an elementary school and 9th grade moves up to the high school next September. Our focus needs to be on the path that Kadri forged, but take it farther. Things will continue to get better if we help.

mamasaid said...

If someone internal was truly qualified, wouldn't they have hired that person to begin with? Wasn't the whole reason reason for going outside the district to bring new blood, energy and resources to the district?

Yes, the district can continue to work on what Kadri started, but there are big decisions to made about the future of the district, and new paths to be forged. If such strides were not made before Kadri got here, why would we expect someone from within the district to have the vision, experience and know-how to enable Neshaminy to make real progress and keep us on track with our priorities?

Do you have any suggestions?

Edward said...

If you want Mr. Kadri to stay then extend his contract and provide incentives. It will cost far more to bring on a new superintendent. Reorganize the Board and remove Eccles and Koziol NOW - don't wait until December. Finally, bring some order and decorum back to the Board meeting's (i.e., put a time limit on public comment and follow Robert's Rules - a board member would have to be recognized by the Board President before they can speak out). These actions will keep discussion on task and should firmly demonstrate the support of the majority of the Board.

Ed Stack

KAC said...

Some Groton school board members came to Neshaminy yesterday to interview individuals and check references for Kadri.

A group of us had the pleasure of meeting them. They love Kadri. There are no incentives Neshaminy could offer him to stay because he will now be working with people who value his work ethic, commitment and knowledge.

Interesting point: They were totally amazed and perplexed on the power that the three bullies – I mean individuals - have over our district. The Groton folks said that they interviewed many, people. Parents, community members, staff and faculty and not one person had a bad word to say about Kadri. They also mentioned how every current board member returned their call and spoke with them regarding Kadri, except the “insipid three”.

After leaving that meeting I want to put my house up for sale and move to Groton---not because that’s where Kadri is going but because the school board members were so impressive. They have a cohesive board that respects one another immensely, even though they do not always agree.

Another interesting comment they made is that they have watched our board meetings on YouTube and are “appalled” at the way Kadri is treated. We are a laughing stock. This is not they way it is supposed to be folks.

Our loss is Groton’s gain…and they know it.

swelle said...

Your sentiments are good Redskins, but there is no way an internal candidate could fill Kadri's shoes. The most commonly mentioned internal replacement is the current assistant superintendent who was in cohoots earlier this year with Eccles, so that isn't going to happen. Nobody else in the cabinet has distinguished themselves enough to be considered for superintendent. Like mamasaid stated, if there was someone qualified, they would have been selected instead of Kadri to begin with. Neshaminy is too big and too tough a place for on the job training. Not only should we go back to the outside for a replacement, we should continue searching for people with business backgrounds much like Kadri had.

William O'Connor said...

The following comments were submitted by mamasaid, and the content was edited due to size limitations.

And another thing...Redskins, you stated, "regardless of who the next superintendent is, the person must work with this board and the board must work with that person." I disagree! The board MUST work with the superintendent, but the community voted those board members in, and we can take them out! At the very least, I believe a re-organization is in order, which would change the leadership of the board, and ultimately, I believe, the dynamics of board business.

A very recent news article, published April 10, 2008 in the Lititz Record Express, reports on a mid-term 'reorganization' of the school board, with a new president being elected. Excerpted from the article: "Howard Kelin, attorney for the school district, had this to say about the process of reassigning the appointment of an elected official: 'Under the Pennsylvania Constitution, Article IV, Section 7, a school board president is an appointed public officer who may be removed at any time 'at the pleasure of the body who appointed them.'

There doesn’t need to be discussion, accusations, fighting or tempers displayed. It can be simplified to the fact that Mr. Eccles has lost effective leadership of the board and has lost the confidence of the community. Then we can get on about the business at hand. If Mr. Eccles had any grace or sense, he would just make a quiet exit. But if necessary, I think more aggressive action needs to be taken.

finance-101 said...

kac - For Groton, this is like hitting the lottery. For Neshaminy, another financial hit. Do people realize how much our real estate went down by losing Kadri ? Have people also noticed that Newtown (Council Rock) real estate continues to go up in a down market. This was based on the new housing stats that just came out this week. It's very simple. Council Rock has a school board that makes smart educational financial decisions. They know that school taxes are hard to cut. So they make their money by having their biggest investment (their home) go up in value. They do this by showcasing their educational decisions to the outside world. The result is that people want to move there.

We are doing the complete opposite !

4thekidz said...

I am deeply saddened but unfortunately not suprised that Mr. Kadri has looked elsewhere. Exactly how many times can we expect this man to be knocked down only to get up and try again? Debates and disagreements can be a healthy process ,but to be beaten down over and over is abuse and we shouldn't want or hope for any individual to continue to take it.
Our board needs to come together and vote for Mr. Eccles to be removed as school board president, and come election time we must vote FOR our children, our neighbors, our community NOT for special interests or short term fixes.
I fear we will be hard pressed to find someone to fill Mr. Kadri's shoes. His ability to balance the financial while still being 'a mother hen' for our students is to be admired and respected not to be pummeled into the ground.

neshaminy4ever said...

What an absolute joke this board is. Folks in Levittown need to wake up. While those three are trying to run this district in the ground, too many of the other board members just sit and watch it happen. Finally some of them are speaking up but its too little too late.
When Kadri leaves this district will really go under. Why does the board keep putting Eccles as president. The board members who voted for him are the ones who helped push Kadri out. I hope none of you get a good night sleep for the rest of the time you are on the board.
Good luck to you Mr. Kadri. You deserve better than this.

Rebecca said...

neshaminy4ever makes a great point about the other board members who elected Eccles as president - ALL OF YOU are equally responsible for where we are now. Back in January I posted a comment under the name "I'm Sad" saying that Eccles reappointment to board president meant the end for Kadri. Maybe some of you people are surprised that Kadri may leave but I'm not. We only see the abuse Kadri got on camera but I bet we don't know half of what really happened.
If anyone wants to vote on which day is the darkest in our history, my vote is for that day last December when five board members voted Eccles as president. Once Kadri leaves you will be swallowed up by the hole you dug for yourselves.

nostradamus said...

Seven predictions for the next 30 days:
* Paul Kadri will leave Neshaminy
* Previously important issues like our darkest day or timely delivery of files to the board will suddenly no longer be important
* Rick Eccles will continue to say he fights for the academic success of all students, but he will do absolutely nothing to prove it
* The board will fight bitterly over an interim replacement
* Without a leader in place, Frank Koziol and Rich Webb will call for immediate closure of Tawanka
* Howard Lidner will return to the meetings to proclaim what a great place Neshaminy is thanks to the hand chosen puppets he got elected
* The public will continue to lose faith in a board that let a great superintendent walk out the door

Anonymous said...

For clarification, Mr. Webb did return the call for a reference check and was very prepared with his comments. He was very prompt and polite with his answers. I just want to make sure accusations are fairly stated.

Groton Board of Education Member

William O'Connor said...

The following comment submitted by John was edited for content

Rebecca brings up a point that was touched on a while ago but Im not sure many people picked up on it. The silent middle block of the board is just as responsible for Kadri leaving as anyone else. They sat silent in essence condoning others behavior and put Eccles back in as pres. That action alone was a kiss of death for Kadri. Everyone wants to pin this the three from Levittown but let them know that they are responsible just as much as the Levittown reps are. We need board members with some backbones that aren't afraid to make a decision despite what others may think or say. This isn't a popularity contest, they are elected to do the right thing financially and educationally, period.