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2014 FPS Unfinished Business

Farmington Public Schools delivered the following to the community in 2013:

1. Two flawed Bond Proposals that ignored well established community values.

2. Continued underfunding of the maintenance and upgrade of educational resources.

3. Continued underfunding of the upgrade of technology resources.

4. Continued lack of classroom discipline throughout the district.

5. At least the 4th year of unchanged nonproficient student performance measured by the State MEAP evaluation in Math, Science, Social Studies, and Writing at all Grade levels tested by Black, Hispanic, and “Economically Disadvantaged” students exposing unresponsive instruction and undermining the integrity of the Farmington Schools High School diploma.

6.  The State identification of several Farmington Schools as “Focus Schools” based on extreme student achievement gaps that are a direct indication of the lack of effective responsiveness to student learning deficiencies consistent with the MEAP test results.

7.  Multiple instructional detractions by top down layers of student achievement programs instead of student-centered research-based lesson plan improvements focused on measured student deficiencies.

8.  A $9 Million Budget Deficit.

9.  The resignation of the Superintendent whom isn’t leaving for another 7 months.

10.  The resignation of the most experienced Board Trustee before the end of term enabling the Board to appoint a Mutual Admiration Society Board member to enjoy the cloak of incumbency in next November’s election.

Farmington Public Schools starts 2014 with the following immediate tasks:

1.  Restoring classroom discipline throughout the district.

2.  Execution and validation of the effective remediation of all nonproficient students.

3.  Establishing, defining, and executing Superintendent search process that is focused on addressing the above (10) performance failures of 2013.

4.  Establishing, defining, and executing a Board Trustee Appointment process that is focused on appointing a leader who is focused on correcting the above (10) performance failures of 2013.

5.  Establishment, defining, and executing a 2014 / 2015 Budget Process that restructures the Budget to address the 2013 performance failures #2 – 8.

6.  The development of a Bond Proposal that provides for the facility and technology infrastructure needs of the district that is consistent with Community values.

The actions and behaviors of the Superintendent and Board Trustees give no indication that we can expect much more than the status quo.  To address the issues cited above, the following actions are required:

1.  Appoint an educational reform advocate as an Interim Superintendent and having Superintendent Zurvolec step aside.  Former Superintendent Mike Flanagan initiated this action upon his resignation and it served the Board, the District, and the Community well.

2.  Appoint a third party Financial Advisor from the Farmington / Farmington Hills private sector to lead and facilitate the current Budget process.

3.  Proceed to develop a Bond Proposal to fund long term facility and technology upgrades.

Tell the FPS Administration and Board that 2014, now, is the time for change.
Sue Burstein January 11, 2014 at 05:17 PM
Dave, thank you for a thoughtful analysis of the state of education in FPS. Having attended last Monday's Board workshop on the 14/15 budget (which the district conveniently failed to post on their website) I can attest that the situation is far more dire than anyone can imagine. I would stronly recommend that all those who villified us who opposed the bonds as being excessive and unnecessary, should try getting their arses to these meetings so that they know what is REALLY happening. As usual, only myself and two others that reguarly attend these meetings were there. Yep, an entire THREE community members out of almost 80,000 in FPS. Until the public - and that includes all those parents who screamed and yelled that we didn't care about the kids - start showing up, then nothing will change. When it's about band uniforms, athletics, music, and the such, they come out in full force to B*TCH. When it's about what really matters, they are conspiculousy absent. I hope they pay attention to a you, a former board member. We are truly on the road to a state appointed fiscal manager if serious steps aren't taken. Those on the board, who have been there in for a decade or more, should be charged with fiscal malfeasance for dragging us into this mess. It was THEIR decision making that did it.
Gene Greenstein January 11, 2014 at 05:33 PM
Thank you Mr. York for validating what those of us on the outside determined in part without having your perspective from having been a seasoned Board member in the past. We all want a great school system. Especially one that teaches the fundamentals well and provides the foundation in American Government and History from which our students can go forward and participate as knowledgeable and patriotic citizens. Its important that parents get involved and know what is going on in the classroom. Why we are spending money on the IB program whose goal is to make students 'people of the world' instead of proud Americans and costs money that we don't have needs to be examined along with all the other points made in Mr. York's informative OpEd.
Irving Ginsberg January 12, 2014 at 11:51 AM
Thank you Mr. York for your concise and valuable comments. What continues to be disturbing is the loss of touch with reality that was exhibited at last Tesday's budget seesion that was called to address the budget for this coming school year. Notably, I saw no one from the Observer, Patch, or Farmington Press in attendance. If they were there, they did not report on it. After an hour and a half it became quite obvious that the Board and Administration have no clue on how to address the looming problems nor what caused the problems.
Sue Burstein January 12, 2014 at 12:02 PM
Iriving...I agree that the board and admin have no clue on how to address the looming problems. However, as to what caused them...they are complicit. They are the ones who signed a 3 year contract with both step raises and regular rasies each year. They are the ones that for years maintained our staff in the doomed defined benefit plan that now costs them a 30% contribution this year. They are the ones that asked for a ridiculous and completely unfounded/documented amount of money in two failed bonds. They are the ones that instituted trimesters which has helped to drive people out of the district. So, unless they are deaf, dumb, and blind, they know exactly what caused the problems. And to hear a board member - out loud - at the budget meeting comment that maybe they need to see what else is in the contract the isn't necessary was most telling. I guess it's like Nancy Pelosi said, you have to read it to know what's in it.
art January 12, 2014 at 10:19 PM
Mr. York, I would have expected nothing less from you. You speak truth to power. Once again you have done your homework for the people in the FPS system. Thank you.
Sue Burstein January 13, 2014 at 09:31 AM
Sound familiar?? http://www.michigancapitolconfidential.com/19514
art January 15, 2014 at 07:36 PM
Mr. York, You should apply for the empty school board position. You ability to analyze positions and put them into perspective is sorely needed by FPS.

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