Friday, September 5, 2008

From the Desk of Jeff Michael, Vice President of Swanton BOE

The following article was written by Jeff Michael, the current vice president of the Board of Education:

The reason I ran for this position was to increase the quality of education for the children of our district, lower the tax burden for our residents, return the district to the people, and challenge the status quo. I take pride that we have a new Superintendent and Administrative team with a plan to lead us to the designation of an Excellent district. We have been the lowest in either Number of Standards Met or Performance Index Score in Fulton County since the 2000-2001 School Year. While our Administrative team has a plan to increase our performance, the fact is that we have been and continue to be the lowest in Fulton County. Although the Swanton School District was, at one time, one of the highest spending districts in the county, held the highest expenditures per pupil, and had one of the highest paid group of teachers, yet our scores remained the lowest, clearly indicating that throwing money at the problem does not fix it. We have instituted a new administrative team to address the problem and I have complete confidence that this team is ready to do the things necessary to raise our scores. However, as our scores clearly indicate, we have a number of underperforming teachers that need to be addressed. I will propose a review process in identifying these underperforming employees. Raising their salaries will not increase the performance of these teachers, just as history has proven.

The School Board and the Administration is deservedly proud of all the positive steps that have been taken to reduce the burden to our taxpayers. Our district has gone from being $1.2 million in the red in 2003-04, to having a $7.3 million carryover this fiscal year. This is attributed to a combination of factors, including diligence on the part of the Treasurer, Superintendent and the School Board to be fiscally responsible. The Board’s goal is to continue on this path so that we may renew the income tax in November at the reduced .75% rate and continue with the business of educating our children!

We have refused a grant that is very similar to many of the pork-barrel politics that have plagued this district for years. This grant was very indicative of the wasteful spending that is approved by the Federal Government, part of this grant is my tax money and I did not agree with the allocation of these funds. I have been and continue to be very successful in leading a fiscally responsible course of action for the school district and this grant allocation was NOT FISCALLY RESPONSIBLE.

I have taken great pride in standing up to the “good ol’ boy network”. This grant and the demands of the SEA are both examples of the “good ol’ boy network” in action. The comments that the grant was “free money” are absurd. It is taxpayer money and it is our responsibility to ensure this money is spent wisely - this grant did not provide this certainty. There was NO PLAN, NO OBJECTIVES, NO MEASURABLES, meaning NO ACCEPTANCE. The only plan, objectives and measurables that were presented were pizza parties, poker tournaments, and parties before and after athletic events. Other than teaching our children how to gamble, how does this reach out to all of the children in the district? This was never presented. I hear that SACC has received another grant for $625,000 and the only plan mentioned is to have pizza parties, poker tournaments, and parties before and after athletic events. I would like to see a comprehensive plan and program to touch each and every child in the community, not pizza parties and poker tournaments.

I am sure the “good ol’ boy network” took a hiccup when we did not RUBBER STAMP the grant; I think the reaction documented in the media bears that out. But the question I have is what was SACC going to do if we approved the first grant, with a total of almost $1.2 million dollars between the two grants combined? That’s a whole lot of pizza parties and poker tournaments. I suggest you ask SACC representatives what they plan on doing with your tax dollars. In addition, the criticism of the Board of Education from SACC representatives is an attempt to discredit the board in furtherance of the “good ol’ boy network”. If SACC believes it can make the derogatory statements about the Board of Education and individual Board members and still have a good working relationship, it doesn’t happen in my book. Isn’t this so typical of the “good ol’ boy network”?

Another example of the “good ol’ boy network” in action is the insistence by the teachers that they DESERVE part of the carryover and should have their salaries increased because of that carryover. Why don’t they understand that this has no bearing on the offer we have extended, that carryover is the money of the residents and we intend to return some of it to our residents?

There has been much rhetoric put out by the SEA but much of it has been fabricated and untrue, beginning with the Treasurer’s salary and the pay freeze. The SEA misrepresented the Treasurer’s salary without validating the salary, simply for shock value. As far as a pay freeze, in my research there has not been any year when the teachers in the Step schedule did not receive an increase. Of course, this obviously is not performance based as our scores indicate. Maybe they should have given it back to the residents for lack of performance. Don’t get me wrong, I believe we have some excellent teachers who are deserving, but when the choice was made to enter into the SEA I am forced to look at them as a whole. And as a whole, our scores are the lowest in Fulton County schools, the lowest in comparison to 20 area schools (see below for the schools), and the second lowest of Swanton’s ODE 20 Similar Schools.

The initial year of the final offer from the Board of Education that the SEA “deemed not worthy of a vote” will make the Swanton teachers:
· The 3rd highest paid teachers at the Bachelors minimum level
· The 2nd highest paid teachers at the Bachelors maximum level
· The 2nd highest paid teachers at the Masters minimum level
· The 2nd highest paid teachers at the Masters with 11 years experience level
· The HIGHEST paid teachers at the Masters maximum level
· The HIGHEST paid teachers at the Masters with 25 years level
· The HIGHEST paid teachers at the Masters with 30 years level
· The 2nd highest paid teachers at the Schedule maximum level
All for scores that are the LOWEST in Fulton County schools, LOWEST of 20 area comparison schools, and the SECOND LOWEST of Swanton’s ODE 20 Similar Schools.

And they want more and deemed this offer not worthy of a vote!!! Tell me where you do not have to perform, yet expect to paid at the highest level. Reality Check!!

The SEA keep saying that they have the lowest across the board starting salaries of any school district in Fulton County, yet what is not said is if they receive the outrageous demands they are asking for, it will make them the highest or one of the highest paid teachers in the county, yet still have the LOWEST scores in the county. This does not even consider the ridiculous lowest medical and dental coverage amounts paid by the teachers. Swanton teachers pay the lowest amount toward their health insurance in Fulton County. A teacher pays $12.20 a month for single coverage and $60.89 a month for family coverage and an additional $5.00 a month for dental coverage. Compare this to what you pay!

If the SEA gets what they want, they will be the highest or one of the highest paid group of teachers in Fulton County, pay the lowest amount towards their health care in Fulton County, and have the LOWEST scores in Fulton County. The SEA’s demands are what disrespects their education, profession, and dedication. If their demands are met they will be paid more than teachers from districts that have Excellent ratings!

It has been said that you get what you pay for, but there seems to be a lack of remembrance that the Swanton Local School District was once one of the highest (if not the highest) spenders of area school districts, had the highest expenditure per pupil, and one of the highest paid group of teachers in the county, YET our State Report Card scores were the LOWEST in the county. As history has proven, money does not fix the problem. Is this reasonable or is it the SEA holding the residents of the Swanton Local School District hostage for the ALMIGHTY dollar without regard for PERFORMANCE or our CHILDREN!?!


As always I welcome and appreciate your support and welcome any questions, comments, or suggestions. This is our school district and I want to make sure it stays that way.

Local Report Card Details:


Fulton County:
1 Excellent with Distinction
4 Excellent
2 Effective
Average Indicators Met: 28 of 30
Average Performance Index Score: 100.98
Swanton lowest in both Indicators Met (20 of 30) and Performance Index Score (92.4)

20 Area Schools:
5 Excellent with Distinction
9 Excellent
6 Effective
Average Indicators Met: 27.4 of 30
Average Performance Index Score: 99.8
Swanton lowest in both Indicators Met (20 of 30) and Performance Index Score (92.4)

20 Similar Schools:
3 Excellent with Distinction
7 Excellent
9 Effective
1 Continuous Improvement
Average Indicators Met: 25.8 of 30
Average Performance Index Score: 97.5
Swanton second lowest in both Indicators Met (20 of 30) and Performance Index Score (92.4)

Swanton: Effective
Indicators Met: 20 of 30
Performance Index Score: 92.4

20 Area Schools include: Anthony Wayne, Pettisville, Perrysburg, Archbold, Sylvania, Wauseon, Eastwood, Maumee, Bowling Green, Bryan, Delta, Fayette, Otsego, Springfield, Evergreen, Napoleon, Liberty Center, Defiance, Washington, and Lake.


Anyone who wishes to respond to Jeff is welcome to do so in the comment section below, and I will make sure he sees all entries. Thanks!

1 comment:

Pam Kazmierczak said...

In response to Mr. Michael,
I said I was not going to do this anymore—but here I go again. You make it very hard to keep quiet.
First, how do you justify that the responsibility of the State Report Card falls fully on the teachers. As an example, say a school system, oh let’s call them Evergreen, had an Excellent rating last year and the school board was happy and gave all of their teachers a $300.00 stipend. But this year, let’s say that there rating dropped to an Effective. All of the teachers are the same, taught the same way and did all of the same things. Do they then not get that same $300.00 because the school system dropped on certain indicators? The students changed, the teachers did not. Why would it be the teacher’s fault that they dropped from Excellent to Effective? Please don’t reply by saying that they slacked off because they felt too confident or something like that. That would attack our integrity.
Another example. In my subject, I do not have standardized tests. My kids are judged, whether rightly or wrongly, by their performance at competitions. Some years we do extremely well, some years not. Am I a better teacher on the years that we are ranked one of the best bands in the state? If so, I would appreciate some input on what I am doing differently on the years that we do not make it to the state level.
And finally, how do you determine what teachers effect what test scores. Let’s take the lowest score from last year’s eighth grade class. Was is that teacher’s fault that the majority of those students did not pass the test. I have never seen that teacher at work in their classroom; I bet you have not either, yet according to you, that teacher is responsible for the failed test score. And if that teacher is responsible, which I debate, why did that person get promoted. You contradict yourself.
Many factors go into the test scores, and there are more indicators on the State report card other than those test scores. We need to look at the whole picture.

As far as returning the tax payer’s money, I know of many people who voted yes on the last income tax levy because they wanted to see the money used for the school. They don’t want their money back. They want to see programs restored. I’m not sure why you think that by storing up all of that money you are doing a good thing.