Article from Racine Journal Times October 28, 2011
Unified numbers still lagging
Interim superintendent Dr. Ann Laing said, “reforms are happening but it’s rough going in part because the number of minority and low income students in the district has grown….Educating those students has been complicated by the turnover of several superintendents who each came with a different vision and educational plan.”
October 28, 2011
Re:RUSD New Superintendent Recently you read that the RUSD School Board has started the process of searching for a new Superintendent. This function is one of the most important it will perform, affecting all our children and their futures. The board has this opportunity to overhaul the district in a very meaningful way. We have seen licensed superintendents working on the academic system while the organization and funding systems seem to be deteriorating and many of the educational achievements are disappointing. State law has changed regarding the required qualification for district superintendents eliminating the requirement for a superintendent's doctorate and the associated courses. It appears that RUSD which has an abundance of first rate teachers and principals and could best use a Manager/Leader to organize and use the educational talent already available in RUSD while managing the administrative, maintenance and financial functions supporting the educators. Many, in fact most successful leader/managers are not experts in the specific functions in an organization but understand how to organize and lead the experts toward specific goals and establish achievable, not necessarily easily reached goals. Someone who manages by personal involvement and observation of every aspect and activity of an organization can make the greatest difference. As a former member of the School Board, I am convinced that a true leader/manger is what is needed now.
John P. Haumersen 8811 Foley Road Racine, WI 53402 414-614-4640
October 27, 2011
To:RUSD School Board
From:Jim Morrison, Racine
Re:Unified Board Has Challenging Opportunity
Dear school board member,
Racine Unified District is faced with a fantastic opportunity, but it is my belief that board members do not recognize that fact. Thanks to the Wisconsin legislature it can now operate the school district for the benefit of the children without unreasonable constraints that are imposed by any unions. This does not mean that the board should ride roughshod over its employees, but does mean that enlightened management can now introduce policies and programs that benefit the education of the children .
To capitalize on this opportunity, I am urging the board to abandon its proposed search for a superintendent and instead devote its time to recruit a qualified chief executive officer and general manager to lead the district with direct reports for the district’s major functions such as finance, education, maintenance, long-range planning and human resources.
The board actually embraced this philosophy about five or six years ago following recommendations made by a community group named to conduct the study. The main problem, as I see it, was that the superintendent was named to implement the program. Like most school superintendents, he was not qualified by experience or education to fill the position. Chaos followed. My proposal should guarantee a solid, achievement-based approach to providing all the resources necessary to educate today’s children as well as the format for tomorrow. Unified’s experience for the last 30 years definitely shows that the superintendent approach has been a failure in meeting the challenges faced by school boards and educators in providing proper education for the district’s children. At Wednesday’s meeting, I asked those present to name our last successful superintendent and offered the thought that Dick Nelson was the last I could recall. No one had any names to offer.
I’ve been told by present and former school board members that the employment pool for superintendents offers more losers than winners. Even Tom Hicks said he was chosen as the best of the bad. I would think that the list of potential employees to head up a school district would have much more to offer since you could recruit from both the public and private sectors.
October 26, 2011
To: RUSD New Superintendent Search Committee From: Dennis Kisley, Caledonia
On September 19 you presented the 1st draft of PROFILE OF DESIRED SUPERINTENDENT.You rated a number of attributes with"0"being least important and "4" being most important. Only 2 items were rated as 4, with one being "Demonstrated success in closing achievement gaps in urban districts with similar demographics to RUSD." If this is your number one criteria, the candidates you find will have new ideas they have promoted, tried or written about and will naturally want to bring them to Racine.
This school district cannot afford one more dollar or one more minute on another 3-year, new superintendent implementation program. With state and federal aid reductions, loss of students to school choice and the continuing loss of students to open enrollment (866 this year), this district faces significant financial challenges for the next few years.
It is doubtful that one person, alone can be the solution to RUSD’S future. But the individual at the top sets the priorities, philosophy and goals of the organization. If that person does not make a 5-year, financial business plan, an integral part of the educational programs and the performance results of those programs, that person will fail this community.
It is disappointing to see that your PROFILE does not look for this type of individual as indicated by the following values you have assigned:
"0" Knowledge of both business and academic side
"0" Demonstrated success at setting priorities and driving them throughout the system
"1" Decisive leadership, make hard decisions
"2" Experience in moving forward in an environment of shrinking resources
"2" Demonstrates strong leadership that inspires others
"2" Demonstrates the value of accountability
All of these should be rated as most important attributes for the next RUSD leader.
The following commentary from Racine Taxpayers was published August 25, in the Racine Journal Times.
RUSD Needs More Than Educational Expert At The Top
The selection of a new leader for the Racine Unified School District is more critical now than anytime in recent memory. Faced with projected revenue reductions and the current minimal improvement in student performance, the job requires more than the typical experienced educator. The Racine Taxpayers Association offers the following comments regarding this selection. We hope this will motivate others to express their own opinion, or comment on ours, to the RUSD School Board and the Journal Times.
RUSD’S last two superintendents had excellent credentials in the field of education. This led to a strong focus on experimenting with new systems, procedures and teaching and learning techniques. Unfortunately, an equal emphasis on an operational strategy to match resources with goals and objectives did not occur. This resulted in a decade in which the District did not achieve the desired academic results and did not always use revenue wisely.
Educating the student must always be the number one priority for a school district, however, financial restraint and accountability cannot be ignored. With reductions in state and federal aid, revenue caps, continued loss of students to "open enrollment" and now the additional loss of students to "school choice", a financial operating plan to fund only the most efficient, productive and proven teaching and learning techniques is a must.
RUSD Administration predicts a loss of millions of dollars in revenue when school choice enrollment caps are eliminated in three years. They claim Racine School Choice could reach Milwaukee’s participation rate and RUSD would then lose 20% of their students and the revenue associated with them. If that happens, the district will have to downsize itself by 20% in order to maintain the current ratio of one employee for every eight students and revenue of $12,700 for each enrolled student, That means a reduction of 500 employees and the closure of 6-7 schools.
It is doubtful the loss of students will come that fast, however, it will be significant over the next five years. Also, it is evident that RUSD has no plan to solve their maintenance backlog and will eventually have to come to the voters with a referendum.
RUSD cannot afford to be led by another educator with 30 years experience and a raft of new ideas that will require a few years to implement. MAP testing has been in existence for a number of years and gives teachers significant information regarding student performance. The new Data Warehouse is starting It’s 3rd year and incorporates MAP data, state test scores and other student/teacher information. The State Superintendent of Schools is starting a data warehouse for all students statewide and will be developing new statewide standardize testing for all students in public, charter and choice schools. We do not need any more changes at this time. We just need to evaluate, refine, and streamline what is currently in place.
The new leader for RUSD must be an individual with a track record of achieving results that match expectations and the ability to achieve these results in an organization that must become smaller, more flexible and more efficient. Someone committed to eliminating bureaucracy and decentralizing the organization. Central office should be reduced to the lowest number of employees possible and resources, authority, responsibility and accountability given to the teachers and the individual school principals.
A career educator has a vested interest in the bureaucracy of the educational system. It has been said "the more bureaucratic an organization, the greater the extent to which useless work tends to displace useful work." The useful work is in the classroom with the teachers and the students. The new leader must be committed to look at every system, procedure, process and program and eliminate all that do not enhance and produce classroom results.