Thursday, December 22, 2011

Ms. Frisco attacks Urban League charter school

Might as well attack the NAACP while you're at it Karen. If you're not careful what you say, someone might try to paint you as a racist. Weren't you part of the "silent minority" at one of the meetings?

Having replenished her venom from recent attacks on Brown Mackie and Imagine Schools before that, FWCS' fanged mouthpiece today went after the new charter school legislation and the new Thurgood Marshall Academy in particular. Among the highlights of her piece are the following gems with a translation:

The legislation creates unhealthy competition - government run monopolies including failing urban school districts are good and have to be preserved forever while privately run schools are bad. Any which make a profit are unconscionable. As Reagan said, the closest thing to immortality on earth is a government bureaucracy.

Legislation undermines local authority and the "ludicrous" suggestion of a state board member that those who didn't speak at the public hearing were a "silent majority" - Well perhaps. The only people who spoke at the meeting were the "local authorities" including FWCS board president Mark GiaQuinta, a Chevy salesman who drives Toyotas. He along with Wendy and other board members have been favoring us with ludicrous drivel for years. None of their drivel has EVER elicited any criticism from Ms. Frisco.

There is a direct connection between closing of Elmhurst, Pleasant Center and Monroeville and the opening of dozens of untried charters - Dozens? Please! Thurgood Marshall is a result of the closing of Harding in EACS. Harding was actually doing the same academically as the FWCS high schools south of Coliseum. It would also have escaped a state takeover. Why it took SE Ft. Wayne parents so long to wake up to the Harding fiasco is a mystery. I asked that question at one of the meetings but didn't get a good answer. But it's the same with the fiasco at FWCS.

As far as other charters, it's the chicken and the egg question.

Troubling baggage with American Quality Charter schools - perhaps. But then FWCS has a ton of baggage as well. It's just that Ms. Frisco has NEVER expounded on that. You don't rock a sinking boat.

Legislation was passed under the guise oYf the mantle of parental choice - Karen doesn't think this is a good idea unless "parents are capable of making the best choice". In other words they are incapable of making the best choice.

Karen, if you want to do the taxpayers a real service, go back to that $119MM project and give us the details that FWCS refuses to disclose for fear of losing votes on the referendum. Show us that transparency reigns at the JG, if not at FWCS.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

State board approves SE charter school

The Thurgood Marshall Academy charter school proposed by the Urban League was unanimously approved by the state charter school board yesterday. FWCS board president Mark GiaQuinta predicted the school would ultimately fail because FWCS has a "better product" and those in charge of the new school "don't have a clue" how to run a school. Maybe he should wait until we see what the Thurgood Marshall "product" looks like before pronouncing the FWCS product better. Most of the FWCS board doesn't have a clue about how to run a school either. They don't have a clue about what goes on in a classroom. That's what determines the quality of a school, not what the Superintendent tells them.

We'll see. The first, key task will be to hire a principal. Then find a building with suitable "infrasructure" (air conditioning). Then, fortunately, parents will ultimately decide on the quality of the product. Not GiaQuinta.

In related developments FWCS has been sued to stop the transfer of the former Pleasant Center building to the Airport Authority. The building is supposed to be kept available for charters for four years. Apparently the Tomothy Johson Academy had expressed an interest. Nice try though, Wendy. And the voucher lawsuit had another day in court with a decision promised in thirty days. Nate Snellenberger, president of the the ISTA, whose mission is to preserve the separation of church and state, said they would take it to the Indiana Supreme Court if necessary.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

What do we want? hvAC!!...and some other stuff.

Last night the board held the mandatory public hearing and voted unanimously to put a $119MM bond issue on the ballot in May. Well, actually, they only voted on the amount. Nothing was said about how it would get on the ballot. If you haven't been to a public hearing, that's where the public hears the board pontificate and then the board doesn't hear the public pontificate. Watching it on TV, it looked like the attendance was sparse. Only three members of the public spoke which was followed by a roll call vote. Much better than the circus Wendy orchestrated at Anthis last time. No bands or balloons either.

Each board member gave a brief explanation of their vote except of course GiaQuinta, who weighed in from the center of the podium sitting behind a banner with a big "A" on it. The mute button came in handy at that point. Then it was just his lips moving.

We're still waiting for more transparency in the details on the building breakouts. Don't hold your breath. They're probably thinking if voters see "AC" anywhere in there, it won't pass.

Later two administrators came in and were asked by GiaQuinta to report on the Thurgood Marshall charter school hearing they had just left. They gleefully related that a lot of the "Public" had expressed opposition to the new school. It later turned out that the "Public" who objected consisted mostly of EACS and FWCS officials, including GiaQuinta himself. How clever is that?

Monday, December 5, 2011

JG is fully padded on FWCS project

Today's JG editorial page, renowned for making stuff up, lamented the criticism being heaped on the district's $119MM first phase of a $240MM building project proposal. The criticism sounded a lot like what's been said here, but as Mark GiaQuinta pointed out, only three people read this blog (four counting him), so it must be someone else saying the same thing.

They are quick to disavow that this project is about air conditioning. By doing that the district's mouthpiece has confirmed that it is about air conditioning. It's being spent on "infrastructure". Except by the district's own figures, $80MM (plus professional fees and contingency or $110MM of the $240MM eventual total project) of that "infrastructure" is for the "red herring", HVAC, i.e. AC, i.e. Air Conditioning. The building by building "details" under "infrastructure replacement"on the FWCS web site don't break that out so we can see it, however. Their unpublished handout (on the eventual project) to board members does break it out calling it "replacement of HVAC" ($75MM) and the addition of some chillers ($5MM).

Are all the HVAC systems shot? Or are they adding central air in buildings that have window units or no AC at all? What exactly are they proposing? Enquiring minds want to know lest they spread the disinformation further, like maybe to Indianapolis.

Roughly 45% of the $240MM eventual project is related to HVAC. If Wendy doesn't want any misconceptions out there on the first $119MM phase, then she needs to spell out exactly what "replacing infrastructure/HVAC" means in each building on the list and how that breaks down in cost. That's what this blog has been asking for since day one but we haven't seen it. Until we do we have to assume there are no misconceptions. Wendy's primary objective on day one in her job was to get all the buildings air conditioned. That's all she talked about in her initial town hall meetings. It wasn't test scores. That's what her $500MM well orchestrated con job was really about four years ago.

Spell it out in detail, justify it to the voters and perhaps they will approve it in May. The 10% contingency looks reasonable but tell us why you need 25% added for professional services for fixing stuff that's broken while you're at it. Otherwise it deserves to go down to defeat like last time.