Tuesday, October 21, 2014

R-8 Board document says he asked for bids, but Johnson tells board state won't allow it

It is amazing what happens when school board members start asking questions.

At about the two hour and 16 minute mark of the board meeting, Buildings Project Director Mike Johnson told the board the reason there was no cost total for the archtect/engineering firm that will restore the mall high school to its owners specifications is because the state does not allow him to take bids on that.

Strangely enough, the board documentation, shown above, says bids were taken and it was advertised in the Joplin Globe.

It is certainly comforting to have Mike Johnson in charge of all of the school district's building projects.

C. J. Huff: Teachers love it here and we have no discipline problems

In a tour de force even for the master of media manipulation, Superintendent C. J. Huff and his administrative team just completed three hours of telling the Joplin R-8 Board of Education and those who watched the meeting on Jet 14 or on the Turner Report, that everything is going well in the school district.

In fact,every criticism that has been leveled at the Huff Administration is completely off base.

Among the things the public and the board learned tonight:

TEACHERS FLEEING THE DISTRICT

The number of teachers leaving the district has been much exaggerated. The percentage is down from 14.90 percent to 10.64 percent, Huff and his chief operating officer, Tina Smith, said. Mrs. Smith said that number included anyone who resigned or retired, but not anyone whose contract was not renewed (for instance, part-time reading instructors).

"I don't see any concerns," Huff said, adding that he and his team have worked to improve the climate in the buildings and "we're seeing good results."

STUDENT DISCIPLINE PROBLEMS

The number of disciplinary referrals is down by 100, Executive Director of Secondary Education Jason Cravens reported. Cravens credited the positive behavior plans being implemented at the schools, as well as working with teachers on what issues should be handled in the classroom and which should be dealt with by the office..

Huff made it a point to say, "There has never been a directive from my office to fudge the numbers whether it be with graduation rates or school discipline."

Cravens said much of the credit for the improved discipline at the high school is due to the new building, with the lighting and the wide open spaces cutting down on student misbehavior.

The improvements with discipline, according to executive director of elementary education Jennifer Doshier are "all about how we can help our teachers."

Cravens added, in case anyone did not get the message the first time, "There's not a burden on the teacher not to write referrals."

Board member Jim Kimbrough asked Cravens if he had any anecdotal evidence from teachers that the disciplinary situation was better. Cravens said he did, though he did not volunteer much. "From what I am seeing," he said, "it's getting better. It feels better."

THE RIBBON

Questioned by board member Debbie Fort about an item on the bills for $1,200 for printing for the ribbon used at the October 3 Joplin High School dedication, Huff said $15,000 had been raised to cover the costs for the event, which seemed to mean that the $1,200 would be covered from that amount.

Huff was not happy with the question, however.

The next time she had a question like that, he said, he would like to know ahead of time so he would have time to gather the information.

Watch Joplin R-8 Board of Education meeting live at 6 p.m.


Nixon announces independent commission to study Ferguson situation

(From Gov. Jay Nixon)

Gov. Jay Nixon today announced that he will create an independent commission to study and make specific recommendations for how to make progress on the issues raised by events in Ferguson. The Governor said the effort must include a thorough and wide-ranging examination of the challenges that were exposed and exacerbated by the death of Michael Brown and its aftermath, and offer specific recommendations for overcoming them.

“Throughout the history of our nation, we have struggled to treat all our citizens as equals,” said Gov. Nixon. “Too often we have fallen short of the guiding principles on which our great democracy was founded. For too many, the promise of unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, rings hollow.”

Will Ron Lankford be Missouri's next Commissioner of Education?

Will the new Missouri Commissioner of Education be former Webb City Superintendent Ron Lankford.

Mum has been the word on who the candidates are to succeed Chris Nicastro, who will retire effective at the end of the year, but it appears that the State Board of Education plans to hire a candidate from within and that description fits Lankford, who has been a deputy commissioner since retiring from the Webb City R-7 School District.

Board President Peter Herschend told the Kansas City Star he expects the decision to be made when the board meets Monday.

The school board's president, Peter Herschend, said he expects the board to emerge from a closed session at its meeting on Monday and vote on its choice, The Kansas City Star reported.

"We have clear-stated objectives," Herschend said. "We know qualified men and women available today. We cannot afford to let education in Missouri go on cruise control for the four months of time it takes for a full-blown search."

Hartzler: We must do more to stop the spread of Ebola virus

(From Fourth District Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler)

Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (R-MO), today made the following statement in response to the Department of Homeland Security’s announcement of travel restrictions in the form of additional screening and protective measures at our ports of entry for travelers from the three West African Ebola-affected countries.

“I am pleased to see that the administration is doing something to try to mitigate the spread of this deadly virus in the United States. I am still concerned that this is not enough. Due to the large window in which an infected person could still be symptom-free, I believe that we must suspend the issuance of visas to individuals from those affected countries. We must do more to stop the spread of the virus in the United States and to protect American lives.”

Joplin city manager finalist withdraws application

(From the City of Joplin)

Joplin Mayor Mike Seibert and members of the City Council invite the public to join in a Welcoming Reception to meet the candidates for the Joplin City Manager’s position. The reception will be held from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Friday, October 24 in the Main Lobby of Joplin City Hall, 602 South Main. There will be an introduction of the candidates at approximately 5:15 p.m.

Candidates participating in this reception are Sam Anselm of Joplin, Mo., and Stephen Rasmussen from Jefferson City, Mo. Randy Wetmore of Marshalltown, Iowa has withdrawn his application for this position.

Prior to the reception, the candidates will be provided a driving tour of Joplin, including City facilities and parks, corporations, schools and other areas. Media will also have the opportunity to meet and interview the candidates during a session scheduled from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Friday, October 24. Council will conduct the interview portion of their visit on Saturday, October 25.

A third candidate, Dean Kruithof from Bentonville, Ark., will visit Joplin on Saturday, November 1, due to conflicts in his schedule for the October weekend. The community reception to meet Kruithof is set for 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. at City Hall.

He will meet with the news media from 10:30 a.m. to 11 a.m., and also have a driving tour of the City, with his interview with Council held later that day.

To RSVP for the reception, please contact Vicki Coots at 417-624-0820, ext. 201 or email her at vcoots@joplinmo.org

Health Department: Low risk of Ebola virus in Joplin

(From the Joplin Health Department)

The City of Joplin Health Department is working closely with area public health officials, first responders and the medical care community in monitoring the ongoing Ebola outbreak and actively planning for a response. Established communicable disease protocols are being adapted for an Ebola response.

The Ebola situation is constantly changing and we are staying current with the latest developments and planning accordingly. To date there have been three confirmed cases of Ebola diagnosed in the United States. None of these three cases were acquired in a community setting in the United States. There are a few facts that need to be addressed to keep the Ebola threat in perspective.

• Based on the current situation, there is still considered to be a very low risk of a community-acquired case occurring in the Joplin area.

Anson Burlingame: Give C. J. Huff five years and he can bring up test scores

Much of the writing on education by blogger and frequent Joplin Globe guest columnist Anson Burlingame has been relegated to his blog, but his latest appears on the pages of the Globe and once again appears to have been fed to him straight from the mouth of R-8 Superintendent C. J. Huff.

Things are going swimmingly, Burlingame writes:

At least in terms of process, our local public education system is almost there now. I say that based on conversations with several local leaders in public educaiton. Joplin Globe reporting has confirmed some of those elements now in place as well, particularly in terms of standards in use locally.

Burlingame ends his column this way:

For the first time since I began to write about public education, about six yeras ago, I now sense a good system is in place so that all concerned know now what is required of all nondisabled students in Joplin. If all concerned now follow the local mandates in that system, then over time- maybe in about five years- the public in Joplin will see better educated students graduating from Joplin High School.

The sad thing about Anson Burlingame is that he actually believes this nonsense. He buys into the idea that the C. J. Huff Administration has had six consecutive years of declining test scores, but give him another five years and he can turn it around.

It is also sad that Anson Burlingame believes the Joplin Globe has been keeping him informed on education, when, in fact, it has served as C. J. Huff's cheering section and has worked diligently to cover up the flaws, some of which have cost local taxpayers millions in Huff's self-absorbed administration.

And the saddest thing of all- Anson Burlingame, on the basis of spending a few years as a substitute teacher and becoming a confidant of C. J. Huff, feels he is now an expert on education and the Joplin Globe continues to serve him up to the reading public as such.

And there may be a few people who actually believe this nonsense.


State Board of Education to hold public hearing on learning standards

(From the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education)

A public session of the State Board of Education, as well as a Public Hearing on the Missouri Learning Standards, will be held at the place, on the date, and at the times set forth below:

Monday, October 27
11:00 a.m. - 12:45 p.m. Public Hearing
<http://dese.mo.gov/sites/default/files/Missouri%20Learning%20Standards%20Public%20Hearing%20Notice%20%2010-27-2014.pdf>
1:00 p.m. - Executive Session
(No regular business on Monday)
State Board of Education Room
205 Jefferson Street, 1st Floor
Jefferson City, MO 65101

Tuesday, October 28
8:00 a.m. - Recognition of Staff
8:30 a.m. - Regular Business Meeting
11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. Closed Session
1:30 p.m. - Reconvene in Open Session
State Board of Education Room
205 Jefferson Street, 1st Floor
Jefferson City, MO 65101