Sunday, June 20, 2010


Disclaimer:  Yours truly's spouse is an elected member of the Stark County Educational Service Center Board of Education.  The view expressed in this blog are the sole opinion(s) of the SCPR.

The Stark County Political Report has been harping on the retire/rehire process in Ohio for some time now.

The Report is pleased to see the magnificent work product of Melissa Griffy Seeton and Dennis J. Willard et al in today's Akron Beacon Journal and Repository.(Many educators dip the system and Superintendents tap pensions while working new jobs) (Willard).

On June 9th, the SCPR did a blog   on William Stetler, the superintendent at Northwest, who did a retire/rehire at Lake before, because of his "inside the education beltway connections" went on to get public jobs with the Ohio Department of Education and now with Northwest.

Bill Stetler, in the view of the SCPR, is one of the most politically savvy and astute educators in Stark County if not in the entirety of Ohio.

What is little understood by the public and, of course, the Stark County public is that Stetler is part of what the SCPR believes is a "good ole boys" superintendent and upper tier school administrators network which is personally loyal to Stark County Educational Service Center (SESC) Superintendent Larry Morgan.

Yours truly has known since the early 1980s that Morgan and his immediate predecessors Curt Hinds and Hem Sims have worked to create what The Report believes to be a "cult of the superintendents" network in Stark.  It appears that Stark's 17 school districts' school boards have obtained their lists - for the most part - for superintendents (when a new one is to be selected) from the Stark County Educational Service Center (formerly the Stark County Board of Education) superintendent, whomever he happened to be.

Of course, the newly selected local school district superintendent would owe the recommending county superintendent a huge debt of gratitude.

As we are learning from Willard, getting one's name on the favored list is just the beginning to getting onto the road to riches at the expense of the tax paying public.

With the help of the legislative "mis" if not "malfeasance" in the policy making realm Ohio's public retirement funds (retire/rehire rules and regulations), within the halls of power in Columbus, superintendents across Ohio have built up sort of a political patronage-esque scheme to create a education political base from which to dictate county education policy and practice to the extent allowed by Ohio law.

The SCPR believes that Stark ESC Superintendent Larry Morgan is the personification of a Stark County educational establishment.  Coupled with the likes of the Stark Educational Partnership (a private non-profit organization headed by Adrienne O'Neill), it is clear to The Report that Morgan controls all of p-12 education policy for the entire county.

This is a system of education that has a remediation rate of 35% or higher for graduates of Stark's finest high schools (Lake and Jackson) who go on to college.   The rate is dramatically higher for Stark's urban school districts. 

As far as the SCPR is concerned, the retire/rehire template has become so marked among top school administrators that it is time to ask the question:  What is the higher priority of education in Stark County - the welfare of Stark's top administrators or improving the quality of education in the county education infrastructure?

Apparently, Morgan et al have not calculated the undermining effect that the unfolding story (going back a number of years) on the retire/rehire largesse and its publicly perceived "insider" aspect (sweeheart arrangements between local boards of education and "retiring" superintendents) is having on local school districts' ability to pass new levies.

The Report believes that investigations like Willard's will ramp up public understanding of what is being done  to them (perfectly legal) as taxpayers and will amp up anti-local tax increase opposition.

Stark County school districts are facing a 30% or better reduction in Ohio funding of local education.  Undoubtedly, local boards of education will have to go to their voting publics for new revenues.

Will one the questions on the minds of voters as the enter the voting booth be:  How many top administrators in my school system are beneficiaries of the retire/rehire?

The Report thinks that the Stark County delegation (i,e. Oelslager, Schuring, Slesnick and Snitchler) to the Ohio General Assembly (particularly Oelslager and Schuring) have stood by and allowed the onset and mushrooming of the retire/rehire scheme of things.

Schuring has been a member of the Ohio Retirement Study Council.  To what effect for the voting public.  Very little, the SCPR thinks.

In the final analysis, when one hears the moaning and groaning by public school officials (top tier administrators and school boards) about their funding difficulties, it is hard to be sympathetic.

Haven't they, in large part, caused a lot of the growing anti-new-tax levy public attitude at their own hand?

Sympathies and condolences should be sent to the students and the families of Stark County and Ohio who appear to well on their way to being sacrificed to the interests of top tier administrators.

As the Willard report says:  
A February study by the Brookings/Greater Ohio Policy Study Center found that Ohio ranks ninth among states in tax dollars spent on administration, but ranks 47th for putting money into classrooms.
So what is Stark and Ohio education mainly about?  Superintendents and their administrative empires or the our kids?

Is there any doubt?

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