Thursday, September 9, 2010

Apparently the job pays $171,600 plus expenses and immunity

To some, the uproar over the $5000 desk that public School Superintendent Romain Dallemand bought for himself using school funds is much ado about nothing. But if squandering $5000 is “nothing” -- especially while our kids go without paper and pencils in the classroom (that’s what levy supporters tell us, anyway) -- then we have bigger problems.

Still, let’s be clear. This is not about a desk. Considering the Herculean effort it took on the part of vigilant taxpayers to get the district to even admit to this purchase, a reasonable person could only presume this is merely the tip of the iceberg and that the level of waste in the district is immense. But because it is the only charge of so many that will stick, the desk will be the undoing for Dallemand and his high-priced cabinet of friends/advisors; the district kids will suffer, as well, as area stakeholders withhold any additional funding.

But if it’s not the desk, what is it? For starters, it’s the fact that Dallemand “hid” the desk offsite once the public got wind of his ENRON-like expenditure. Then he shot the messenger who brought the act’s illegality to his attention (“Dallemand acknowledged that her termination was based in part on her reporting about the desk.” -- CORYEA v. ROCHESTER INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT #535). That whistleblower case is working its way through the courts and ultimately the taxpayers will pay the price for the board’s inability to nip this in the bud.

The real tragedy, however, is this: “Dallemand allegedly had instructed employees to delay hiring a wellness coordinator from a pool of qualified nonminority candidates in order to find and hire a minority candidate.” This egregious, albeit alleged, act of discrimination was thrown out because the claim was apparently filed too late. That doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

If it’s true -- and we ought to find out – then it’s unfortunate Dallemand preferred to hire someone based on the color of their skin. It was wrong when the board did it in 2007 and it's wrong now.

Read more here:

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

It’s levy time again

It’s levy time again friends and you can catch a sneak-peek at the district’s new billboard here:

But seriously, a lot of this sounds like what I hear children say at Toys R Us, "if you really love me, you'll spend money on me." Most of the studies show that more money does not translate to better graduation rates; especially that poor school performance generally parallels an unstable home. That can't be fixed with levy dollars. But, the district administrators may be right about one thing. It is fair that all of our kids get the same financial support. So one would have to concede that giving the highest levy districts a cut to match the lowest is just as equitable as giving the lowest levy districts a boost to match the highest; And, because kids are our future and this is all an "investment" in them, charter and private schools deserve equal funding, as well.

Oh, and hold-off on your, "you are obviously a racists, gadfly" retort. Consider this nugget from the Department of Education (,
"More money is spent in districts with the highest percentages of minority students compared to districts with the lowest percentages of minority students. Although minority students in poverty are often viewed as those least served by current systems of public education funding, these findings suggest that while inequalities may remain for students in poverty, they do not appear to be driven by minority status."

Do you really want to help our kids? We need to bring more male teachers into the classroom. Right now, only 10% of grade school teachers are men. In fact, because the absence of a male role model is so often cited as a problem for at-risk children today, this disparity seems like a greater priority and one, when addressed, more likely to make a long-term difference in the student's life and tighten the opportunity gap.