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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

MY APOLOGIES TO DRUNKEN SAILORS

Apparently as many in City government are looking for ways to save and cutback, the Hartford School System is on a spending spree. This is nothing new for Hartford's Schools from what I am told. Apparently administrators  and others at the Board are encouraged to spend any surplus rather than risk losing that money back to the City at the end of the fiscal year.

The saying " spending like drunken sailors is an annual tradition. It seems inconceivable that anyone could morally condone this behavior at a time when upwards of 250 employees are in dander of losing their jobs. But, then again, as we have seen lately, moral behavior seems to be a foreign term in the administration.

The Board and the Superintendents Office are very slow to answer questions and FOI requests regarding spending, but I think they are quickly finding out that my "alternative means" work just as well. I am still waiting for the specific numbers on the Miami trip, but thank you to all that have provided information, names and details for the trip. Just because Jill Cutler Hodgman refuses to speak or provide documents, plenty of other well intentioned people will. I sincerely thank those of you who have assisted me, putting the well being of children and their education above the nonsense that goes on under the watchful eyes of the Board and the Superintendent

Apparently the Miami trip to pick up a Magnet school award included teachers and the Principal from the Noah Webster School as well as the school's "Operations Manager". I know it was a long time ago, but when I was in school we called our operations manager the Principal.


 
The Miami trip, looks like fun. Paid for by the Hartford Schools apparently, since they refuse to release any information. Noah Webster school employees identified as Kelly Sousa, center, Heather Zottola , right

The Miami trip is just one example of spending like drunken sailors, but another example is in line with the nautical theme, possibly as a tribute to drunken sailors.

I received an e-mail Monday telling me about a $4,000 ( yes you read the zero's correctly, four thousand) a $4,000  fish tank purchased by Hartford' Schools for the lobby of Noah Webster School. Today I received another phone call about the Miami trip and also telling me about the $4,000 fish tank. The caller also explained that the School (Principal) has also hired a contractor to come in regularly to clean and maintain the fish tank.
THE $4,000 FISHTANK (the extension cord running across the floor is a lawsuit waiting to happen and likely an electrical code violation also)

Let me go back to the morals again for a moment. How can anyone think about laying off educators while taking trips to Miami and buying $4,000 fish tanks. How do those expenditures relate to educating children .What is more important, paid vacations and fish tanks or actual teachers in the classroom.

It is also ironic that at the same time that I am typing this blog post, teachers at Noah Webster School are preparing for a vote of no confidence in the Principal. Maybe  a vote of no confidence would be more appropriate for the Superintendent and the Board for allowing this nonsense to occur unchecked in the first place.

Keep the confidential  information coming.

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

Since you name the people in the picture, name the caller. Also, if you knew anything about budget, you would know that this money has been allocated since LAST YEAR. It DOES NOT roll over past July 1. A fish tank is an excellent addition to a magnet school where you are trying to attract students. But you wouldn't know much about any of that.

Anonymous said...

Wow. So, you have a vendetta with a city and you choose to vent your anger by trying to publically shame a group of public school teachers. Why, because they served the children of Hartford well enough to go someplace for an award? With all of the things you might focus your energies on, you instead single out a group of teachers, who put up with unfathomable amounts of bull sh@t daily, so that you can play arm chair crusader. What a truly misguided and malevolent act. Save your venom for someone who deserves it.

Anonymous said...

Kevin, you are making my blood pressure go up. Heartburn is now a regular component of these reads. I am absolutely disgusted at this waste of money. There may not be any way to directly tackle the BOE. But council must be held responsible for this mess. We need a recall provision in the Charter. How about we begin a grass roots petition to make recall into the Charter.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure the Mayor who controls the school board and appointed the Chairman of the BOE will get right on this after he is done sliding a few $million more to Centerplan to finish up the stadium by September!

Bob Killian said...

Wow! Keep it up, Kevin.

KEVIN BROOKMAN said...

6:54PM

I think you are in the minority in that opinion. Nothing about a vendetta, it is just about right and wrong

and 6:43PM " A fish tank is an excellent addition to a magnet school where you are trying to attract students" so are teachers, but we are getting rid of 250 of them because of reckless spending like this. Are you possibly the Principal trying to justify your spending?

Anonymous said...

I have seen fish tanks, aquariums in plenty of other Hartford Schools, why is this one being target.

Anonymous said...

Another unfortunate decision made by this principal: the office manager is staying but the wonderful school librarian is laid off

Anonymous said...

@6:54


What was the selection process that awarded these teachers to be chosen to go to Florida? Was there one?

A lot of wolves in sheep clothing in Hartford.

peter brush said...

I can't get worked up about it. The State requires the towns pay up. Can't spend less. We can't get 100% literacy on a $500 million/year budget. Might as well take trips to Florida. Get rid of the District, and give kids vouchers.
-----------------------------
Why can’t Board of Education budget be cut in order to lower taxes?
The State of Connecticut has Minimum Budget Requirement (MBR) rules which prevent municipalities from dropping education funding below specified amounts. For (Hartford), using the rules that are currently in place as a “district in need of improvement,” the City cannot budget less in for next fiscal year than it did for the current fiscal year without being penalized $2 in Education Cost Sharing funds for every $1 in budget reductions below the MBR.

Anonymous said...

I do know and yes the funds do roll over, however allocated un-used funds go back in the General Fund, you know the one that pays Teachers.

The mindset of spend it or loose it, it's irresponsible, incompetent and if the me, me, me school; what happened to we aren't you in Union ?

Tell me the last time parents picked a school because it had a fish tank. I picked Noah Webster for the academic program, yes I am a parent of a student actually in the class of one of these teachers in the photo living it up.

As for attracting students, I have family members who apply for the Lottery and can't get in, is it because they live in HARTFORD.

What percentage of students are from Hartford?

The teachers sent a memo home first week of school, asking Parents to donate copy paper, tissue, glue, etc.

I am appalled, disgusted and extremely disturbed by this. - Concerned Parent, afraid of retaliation on my child.

Bill Katz said...

@9:40

Why is this being made a Issue? Are you kidding? We are tittering on municipal default and the board is allocating fish tanks and trips to Florida while laying off teachers. Ya man, the Titanic just get a little bump but don't worry. The quartet is still playing. Go have another drink and go beddy bye.

Anonymous said...

I attended Noah Webster School, and graduated from there in 1964. I then attended and graduated from Hartford Public High School in 1968. Noah Webster was considered to be the finest elementary school in the city in those days. Why? Because it had the only advanced placement(honors) classes in all of Hartford's elementary schools at that time. It had a wonderful library, and an outstanding teaching staff. It did not, however, have an aquarium. Good teachers were not rewarded with expenses-paid trips and vacations. The school provided all classroom supplies. The only time students ate in school was at lunchtime, and the only place they ate was in the lunchroom. The students were respectful to their teachers, and the teachers were dedicated to teaching their students. The school had a budget, and the principal administered it judiciously. What were the rewards? For the students, it was a first-class education and excellent preparation for higher learning. For the teachers, it was the satisfaction of helping these young people achieve to their highest abilities and give them a solid foundation for lifelong learning. The same went for HPHS. They got by with ONE principal, ONE vice-principal, and ONE school office--all of which served nearly 1,000 students in any given year. There were not three or four separate "academies" within the school, each with its own highly-paid administrators and office staffs.

These young teachers (and some administrators) today are themselves the product of the "new" system of education, in which they were coddled, over-tested, and learned to expect some sort of reward for even the most minor of achievements--things like always completing their homework, not being late to school, etc. Those behaviors used to be the mandated standard, not something deserving of special recognition. So is it any wonder they expect the same now that they're on the other side of the desk?

Anonymous said...

I agree with Kevin. It's bull how BOE has the biggest budget in the city but the mayor wants to shut down fire houses and wants concessions from fire and police. Cut this bull spending from the BOE. And that should start solving some of the budget issues.

Anonymous said...

I went to HPHS in 1969 and by that time, they had 4 Vice Principles and the teaching or should I say, the learning standard was slightly north of idiocy. No falt of the teaching staff. Much of the student body came from dysfunctional and hyperactive families. Nothing from nothing leaves nothing. I think Billy Preston sang that.

Anonymous said...

Just some key points to add:
- below the picture with Kelly & Heather was the caption "haters gonna hate"
- the Miami trip was never announced, most of the staff didn't know there was a trip to Miami until they were all in Florida.
- Kelly is double dipping! Isn't that against city policy?
- She is an Admin Intern & the Curriculum Specialist who found time to goto Miami away from the "haters" while SBAC (a standardized test) was in full swing. It was somehow decided that her presence in Miami was needed when the scores from NWEA (a NATIONAL standardized test) were awful! Not a single grade made gains. Not a single grade! (Kelly also wrote her own job description. God knows how much she's making!)
- I'm glad this is all coming to light. Something needs to be done about this.

The truth will all come out eventually.

But I guess in the mean time, "haters gonna hate!"

peter brush said...

Noah Webster was considered to be the finest elementary school in the city in those days. Why?
-------------------------------------------
The State's response to the Supreme Court's decision was swift. On July 25, 1996 Governor John Rowland issued Executive Order No. 10, creating the Education Improvement Panel ("EIP"), which was charged to "explore, identify and report on a broad range of options for reducing racial isolation in our state's public schools, improving teaching and learning, enhancing a sense of community and encouraging parental involvement." Twenty-one Connecticut citizens, diverse in race, occupation and background, were selected by the Governor and the Legislative leadership and appointed to serve on this panel which was chaired by Theodore S. Sergi, the State's Commissioner of Education. Members included the presidents of the state NAACP and the New England Health Care Employees Union, a college professor, education professionals from both the local and state levels, and a number of elected officials from all levels of government. Seven members of the Panel were either African American or Latino, and three had children or close relatives in the Hartford Public Schools.
https://www.jud.ct.gov/external/news/sheff.htm
----------------------------------
The government can't fix its schools. We should get the government out of it, except for finding (voutchers).

Trip to Atlanta said...

Where is good ole' Rich Waring? Or the incredible scholar Kelvin? I think it's time for Rich to step down. Pedophiles and Fish Tanks. And, if I'm not mistaken, the pedophile was also on s school funded trip, with others, in Atlanta GA. The BOE paid him to go to Atlanta and send dirty pictures of himself to a 13yo while he was there.
And isn't Rich Waring the one who knew about the illegal basketball tournament last year on schools grounds where innocent people were shot and killed? Time for Eyebrowski Waring to take a walk out of politics.

Anonymous said...

Not to long ago Noah Webster was a banner school, then enter their existing principal.. It has now become a ZOO where parents and teachers are pulling their kids out.... Administrative incompetence GONE WILD !!!!

Anonymous said...

I hope this comes to light at the next Board of Ed meeting! The Superintendent should be made to justify these unnecessary expenditures.

Andrewsjohn708 said...

Kevin,
It’s very convenient how you negatively portray the teachers that attended the 2016 MSA annual conference to get a budget point across. Calling it a paid vacation is quite na├»ve. You conveniently fail to report the critical facts. The conference is filled with valuable sessions that provide insight, shared success stories, new theories, technologies, marketing, networking, and other pertinent information. It’s important for teachers and leadership to be well informed and up to date with changes in the Magnet school landscape. This is useful when talking about educating the children. The teachers get to talk to and learn from other professional throughout the nation. This is beneficial to the process. So as you sit there and criticize and talk about the expense, did you ever think about how valuable these trips can be? Did you ever factor into your erroneous equation the time and effort put forth by these teachers and administrators on a daily basis. The hours that far exceed what they get paid for! The weekends they work! The hours they come in early! The long hours they work past the time the bell rings! The time taken from their families because they are working from home at night! Of, course you fail to mention that. I detect there is something more to this than what is being discussed. It’s evident you are too ignorant to see the other side of this coin. If you have a problem with the BOE, take it up with the BOE, and stop trying to shame teachers because they did a great job for the Magnet Schools of Hartford. Maybe you can post the schedule of the conference or a picture of them touring the schools in Miami. You’re going to trash these girls because they were smiling in a picture in Miami? You can say what you want obviously, but maybe you should attend a conference before you criticize its validity or value. Keep sitting cowardly behind your keyboard and typing nonsense without knowing the facts. Your opinions are your own, but they show a complete lack of knowledge on the subject. Posting blogs without knowing what you’re talking about is cynical and downright irresponsible.

KEVIN BROOKMAN said...

And a trip to the space shuttle might be beneficial also for the kids but we can hardly afford the expense. We can send all the teachers on trips that we want, but if they then have to be laid off because of funding, what is the benefit, So we have unemployed teachers that are familiar with how things are done in Miami? And there is nothing cowardly about what I do, why don't you disclose your relationship with the situation instead of your phone calls and ridiculous accusations about letters regarding affairs with the Prinicpal you made in your phone call last night and your veiled threats?

Anonymous said...

You are complaining about a fish tank at the school? And a trip for hardworking teams to be recognized nationally for doing a great job for the students and our community? Really, let's focus please. should they ban student field trips too as they are deemed unnecessary? I am active in the schools and on the SGC, how many of you can say that? I also know the city schools have been working with the same funding for many years. How many other city departments can say this? Schools have become safe havens for students and hubs of the community. I think a few nice touches like fish tanks, and national trips to be recognized are perfectly acceptable for our children and the school staff. and add more value for students and staff morale than any of you!

WHO WEARS THE PANTS? said...

Kevin

Don't worry too much about AndrewJohns. He is probably sitting at home as a house husband questioning his masculinity as his other half brings home that inflated BOE salary. Is the ironing done yet Andrew?

Anonymous said...

@2:50

Did you ear the slogan, "We can't afford to do business as usual?" What does it mean to you,? To me, it means not spending money as we normally do.

Give it a break and get real.

Anonymous said...

Kevin in the original picture of the 21 employees that went to Miami- the guy taking the picture has nothing to do with teaching he is in a role like a secretary to the principal. I know that 11 of the people in the picture work at central office and didn't have a damn thing with the district winning the award. So why were they there? I really want to know how much was spent on this vacation for staff. Air fare, private rooms, and meals. Hell I would have like to have gone. By the way 5 of the same individuals went on another conference to Washington, DC 3 days after Miami. Kelvin FOI the travel expenses of Enid Reye, Director of CHOICE. She has been to 16 conferences this year out of state at a cost of ???. Just the days she has missed for being out of the state at conferences is at least 1/4 if not half of the time she has worked this school year. Check it out. If you go back 3 years you really will be surprised. I will buy you dinner if I am wrong. (Not caviar)

Anonymous said...

It is time for Dick Wareing to go. I thought he would have some pride and do the right thing and resign by now. He is a real RINO - (Republican in Name Only. Any real republican would have stopped the bleeding by now. He has no shame, nor does the superintendent or Chief of staff Gnounoo. I am embarrassed for all three.

Anonymous said...

@2:20 & @2:50 and blindly supporting ALL teachers like they aren't part of the whole mess is the right way to go? I am so tired of the overzealous defense of teachers as if they are all excellent. Like any other profession there are excellent teachers but let's be real, for most teachers is just a job they are happy to leave. I work in an academic environment. My mother was a teacher for 30+ years. I have several immediate relatives who are teachers. I also had 16+ years of dealing with teachers and professors when I was in school. I experienced plenty of bad teachers. I also experienced a select few excellent teachers. Most of the teachers I've experienced though are just o.k. They aren't bad and they aren't extraordinary. Stop with this special class nonsense. They should not be immune to criticism and very few of them deserve trips to Miami at the taxpayers expense. By the way, with all of my experience with teachers, the one thing that clearly stands out is they like to party. I've been to conferences and they have very little to do with productive work getting accomplished and very much to do with debauchery at the local watering holes. Give us a break from the selfless, noble teachers routine. I apologize to any of the teachers who are excellent and somehow got offended by this comment. It wasn't for you. The rest of you can commence bashing me while you show up to collect your paycheck a everyday without making a difference to a single kid.

Anonymous said...

Is Andrew Johns living with Scott Herman?

Anonymous said...

I find it appalling that there are many comments on here justifying such fiscally irresponsible behavior. Ok, you want the fish tank and taking trips to Florida to get some award… Fine but in reality why don’t we address the several complaints that preschool Para’s have put in regarding discipline of very hostile children. Children that have not only become violent with children but with teachers, para’s and lunch room staff as well. What about the child that has been left outside, unattended and have had neighbors bring her in because their teachers were not diligent enough to verify if all the children were accounted for! Let’s talk about the fact that DCF has not been notified of a child that has displayed such violent behavior and yet the child has never been penalized. Oh and let’s not forget the fact that records have been falsified regarding the child’s ethnicity to entice more OUT OF HARTFORD children to apply. Let’s get an investigation going on all these FACTS as well as statistical data on how many of the students that attend Noah Webster are actually from HARTFORD!! HMMMMM……

Maybe we should focus on the REAL issues at hand: Fiscal Irresponsibility, Failure to report even though they are mandated reporters, Failure to provide a safe working and learning environment not only for the students but for the staff as well, not to mention many other issues!!!!

PEOPLE!!!! Stop trying to justify irresponsible behaviors and be proactive on how to correct them.

To be quite honest, as a parent, I’m more concerned with the quality of education, the environment and the dedication to my child rather than freaking FISH TANKS AND AWARDS! As a Hartford School’s Alum it is disheartening and down-right embarrassing that the teachers and the administrators of today’s youth are not concerned with the EDUCATION of children. And let me just say it hasn’t been that long that I graduated from HPHS, only about 20 years ago. These NEWBIE teachers and administrators are only in for a good time, good pay and to retire while they are still “young”, the old school teachers are ones that worked until they just couldn’t anymore, some even in their 70’s and they still helped their students, after school, before school and in between because education our future was their passion!!

Such a shame and embarrassment that these so called “EDUCATORS” are the ones leading our future.