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Board highballs the facility bid, admits finance committee is running the school

Published July 9, 2018 by justicewg

The process for updating to school buildings has been ongoing for years, and from the start, the board declared they wanted to build expensive new buildings. They are following through on that declaration, and more – the board has proposed a ridiculous highball number ($55 million) and tacked on an operating levy of one mill, just to remind parents that they can hold the school children hostage. If you are voting for this $55 million plan, you are also voting for a replacement (probably another $25 million) of the Stevenson building, because the plan under funds upgrades to the building.

The board also now has no defense from the charge that the finance committee was a policy deciding group that should have been open under the Ohio Open Meeting laws.

How highballs work in negotiations

The school board has known since the G4G group went public with opposition to the superintendent’s request for a $50 million facility plan last year that the first try at a levy would fail. There has been unprecedented opposition to the school’s attempt to manipulate the facility process, even the most optimistic on the board must have known that the $50 million plan was not going to pass. Given that fact, the board decided that a highball bid was the way to set expectations for the future.

Negotiation is all about setting the expectation for a “good number”, a price that seems normal to pay. Some ruthless negotiators find no worth in starting mid range, a high number sets the top of the range, and brings up the bottom. If the school board carefully cut into the plan as presented by Culp last year, they might have come up with a plan that cost $45 million. But the board saw that as leaving money on the table, they said, “if you are going to lose the first bid anyway, go for the big money”.

Make no mistake – this sort of hard negotiation is not normal for a Grandview Heights board. Most levies in the recent past have been in the normal range of past operating levies. Most levies pass with 60% in favor. There was one ridiculous levy attempt back in 2002 that was a big lesson for the board, and which will be used as a template for the present.

The fantasy levy of 2002

The school board of May 2002 used a similar tactic for highballing the voters, with a twist. The “incremental operating” levy asked for 9.8 mills, already a high number. They then added an additional 4 mills, to take effect the next year, and 4 more the next year. Only 35% of the voters were in favor, the biggest loser of all levies.

Nobody expected that levy to pass – but it set the expectation for the “right number” higher. That fall, the voters approved 10.7 mills, the highest millage issue in the history of the school.

The board that approved the original highball levy should have been immediately recall voted out of office, the fantasy incremental levy was an insult to the community that should have been punished. But in the minds of those board members, they saw it as a needed hardball tactic. And the approval of the fall levy was a submission by the community. We got played, and we didn’t fight it.

Stevenson replacement in the future is part of the $55 million bid

When Culp presented his initial plan for the school upgrades in September 2017, he included $6 million in refurbish work on the Stevenson building. That money was nearly zeroed out by the finance committee, they said “we are only looking at doing security and ADA upgrades at Stevenson”. If the school board under funds the maintenance of Stevenson – and nothing will stop them – that will place the closing of the building at the top of the board’s list. Shortly after the new middle school is completed, the board will come back to the voters with irrefutable evidence (because they created the problems) that Stevenson MUST be replaced. Add another $25 million to the construction costs, in the near future.

Two “no on the levy” votes will be needed

The highball bid of $55 million will not pass. But it will set the expectation high, and allow the board to come back to the voters with a $50 million plan in 2019. Cutting a few frills will be presented as painful cuts (funny how all the real pain will be suffered by the taxpayers).

There will need to be two consecutive no votes on the school’s levies before the board can be convinced to come down to a real number that will get the support of the community. This will be hard, because another, higher operation levy will be sure to be tacked onto the second bond levy. The board will threaten major cuts in after school programs, and cuts to classes that are offered. The re-implementation of activity fees will be on the table for the second vote for sure.

Unfortunately the best solution for a school board that is extorting the community – voting out the present board – will not be up for a regular vote until November 2019, when Palmisciano and Brannan can be replaced. If Truett and the other two board members elected in 2017 want to cause maximum damage to the community before they are voted out, the three of them can run the board until 2021.

The board broke the laws on open meetings Read the rest of this entry →

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The high school turns Brown

Published April 26, 2018 by justicewg

Robert Brown TwitThe principal of the high school can be seen as the number three position in the school administration (after the super and the treasurer). The school has just announced a replacement for the departing Ken Chaffin. Robert Brown, Assistant Principal and Athletic Director, McCord Middle School in Worthington, OH, will be heading the high school soon. He will be starting Aug 1, at $110,000 salary.

A search of the social media shows not much beside a twitter account – @rbrown035 .He is not very active in tweeting his own material, most are re-tweets of others at the school. I do see some anti-bullying material in his tweets, good to see that he takes that seriously enough to repeat. A lot of his posts are about sports teams, which can be expected for an asst. principal who is also an athletic director.

While looking around in Brown’s tweets, I again found links to the blog used by Trent Bowers, the Superintendent at Worthington. Read the post he made about cell phone policy at the school.

https://wcsdistrict.wordpress.com/2018/02/12/what-is-the-role-of-the-smartphone-in-schools/

The post is a very interesting look at the positive and negative effects of cell phone use, including an experience in his own family that showed the ways it can distract students from learning just to keep up with frivolous chatter. Most importantly, the post ends in a question, asking if there should be changes in policy at the school, and then allows a conversation to develop among the people who are reading his blog.

Could you see that happening with the superintendent at Grandview Heights? Why is that something that will never happen at our school (at least until there is a major change in the school board).

Although he never had much public conversation on his blog, Ken Chafin did have a wordpress blog during his time at Grandview. It is possible for an administrator to have a blog – but feedback from parents just isn’t encouraged here.

Complaints lodged over First Ave condo proposal

Published September 26, 2017 by justicewg
Deyo and Office

The yellow brick office building and the brown roof Deyo-Davis buildings would be torn down for the development.

The meeting room for the planning commission was overflowing September 20th with Grandview residents who wanted to comment on the proposed condo to be built on First Ave. The majority of those who spoke were opposed to the plans that were presented by the developer. The site is now the Deyo-Davis Funeral Home and an adjacent office building.

According to a TVN story, most were in favor of the use of the property for residential use, which would require a change from the current commercial zoning. But speakers at the meeting were critical of the number of units and the increased traffic that would be flowing in and out of the area. The developer, Scott Owens, presented a plan for the constructing of two four-story buildings, each with 16 condominiums.

Many spoke about the nearby Edison school building, and worried that morning traffic leaving the condos would cross paths with children entering the school. There were also concerns about parking, although the developer had parking garages in the back, there would only be two spaces per unit. Residents who lived in the area said the on street parking is already tight, and worried that visitors to the new development would create parking issues for blocks around the area.

Some commission members expressed problems with the size and number of units in the new buildings. They said the new buildings would not fit into the present character of the neighborhood. But commission member Robert Wandel said he likes the “boldness” of Owens’ concept, and suggested that traffic issues could be ameliorated with a second entrance.

The only possible second entrance I could see would be a back exit onto Broadview Ave, but that still allows turning right and entering First. I don’t see how shifting traffic sightly improves anything.

The Powell development cautionary tale

Council member Steve Reynolds posted links on his “Grandview Heights USA” facebook page to a story that happened in Powell. Ohio. The city council in that town approved a large new housing development, but a group of residents created a city charter amendment banning high-density housing that was approved by voters. The city then withdrew the developer’s approval, and the developer sued. The city had to pay $1.8 million to settle the suit.

The present development under consideration is not yet approved by the council, and will require re-zoning for the new use of the land. Grandview doesn’t face the danger of a lawsuit. However, City Council members do have the power to approve development deals that are not wanted by the majority of the voters, and passing amendments after approval can cost the city (and voters) big bucks.

The issued of housing density in Grandview should be a top concern for the council members up for election this fall. Make sure you know what the position of each candidate is, and let the candidates know how you feel about housing in Grandview.

Phishing emails circulating in school lists

Published November 9, 2016 by justicewg

As if you didn’t have enough to process this morning, a wave of phishing emails are being sent out to Grandview parents. If you get an email from somebody you know in Grandview that contains a request to “kindly review the attached document”, it will attempt to get you to enter your name and password (don’t know which password they are phishing for, I guess anything can be used to try to hack your accounts).

Below is the email that was sent out this morning by Brad Pettit, Director of Technology Operations at the school.

Grandview Parents and Community Members:

We are seeing several emails from Grandview community members, staff and students that are SPAM or phising emails. The email is very general (such as “kindly review the attached document”)  but asks you to open a file that is password protected. This is email is not legitimiate and should be deleted immediately. We are addressing comprimised accounts of staff and students right now and if you have opened any attachments from an email like this, it is suggested that you change your password.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Thank you

Brad Pettit
Director of Technology Operations
brad.pettit@ghcsd.org
614-485-4034

Some things to help with the phishing email

The email will have the name of a Grandview parent or school staff in the “from ” field. The one I got was from B. Lynaugh. He has been getting a lot of calls and emails asking “did you send this?”. So there is no reason to notify the person who was used as the subject line, they know about it, and it had nothing to do with them (other than the fact they were on a list of school associated names).

Second, instead of just deleting the email, go to the website for your email provider and mark that email as spam. This will help the email providers know that emails that come from the “grandviewstudents followed by .org” domain are fake and spam (or not – I see this domain is in use by the school)

By the way, if you do the lookup for that domain, the owner is hidden by a proxy. The domain had to be a confirmed real domain to get past the spam filters.

(Later) After some searching, it turns out that domain name is being used by the school, I see it mentioned in some of the school info on the website. That points to the likelihood that some student at the school was assigned an address, and it was hacked somehow.

Teenagers living on the smartphone

Published December 5, 2015 by justicewg
Laptop_tablet_phone

Photo by miniyo73 on Flickr CC

The constant use of smartphones by young people has a lot of us oldsters concerned. They seem to be spending most of their time with their noses down into the phones, oblivious to others, Tweeting and Instagraming and all of the other apps that those of us who grew up before computers have trouble understanding.

 

There is a significant difference in the way kids use computers, 10 years ago there was only large computing devices that couldn’t be comfortably carried. The kids in high school have spent all their lives with a device that allows them to be constantly connected to all of the intertweetergram social media.

This article by an author who spent some time with teenagers learning how they cope with the constant stream of digital life seems hopeful that the kids will be all right. Worth reading.

The Generation That Doesn’t Remember Life Before Smartphones – What it means to be a teenager in 2015