No sooner do I post an article about Odyssey than an email comes in from an Odyssey parent who is fed up with their Board! While this email has been circulating among Odyssey parents on social media today, this is the first time it has been open to the public like this. The parent gave me full permission to post this and considers it a public document!
Date: Wed, Jul 11, 2018 at 12:12 PM
Subject: Odyssey Board Practices and the Creation of New Administrative Positions
To: “Josiah R. Wolcott” <email@example.com>, George Hantzandreou <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Laura Thomson <email@example.com>, Kirifides Mike <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Michael Klezaras <email@example.com>, Elias Rigas <firstname.lastname@example.org>, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Cc: Carwell John <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Good morning OCS Board members,
I hope everyone is having an enjoyable summer. I write this morning to express my ongoing concerns about the seemingly rushed, seemingly secretive, and seemingly predetermined decision to create yet another administrative job and give that position (without a competitive selection process) to the former Board president.
As an initial matter, giving a job to a person who stepped down as Board president eleven days ago is very questionable from an optics perspective. I know that most of you devote many hours to the School and want the best for it. However, taking a former Board member and awarding him a new (likely highly paid) position with no competition does not convey the right image. In fact, it suggests that people are in this for the wrong reasons (ie: personal financial benefit). In our society, optics often matter more than reality. And this is not a good look.
Second, I have previously questioned the need for rushed and secretive selection processes. I question it again at this juncture. Just like the hiring of Riccardo, I see no need whatsoever to make these decisions in a hurried manner. As the former OCS PTO President, I can tell you that people work very hard to scrape together a few bucks here and a few bucks there so that we can enhance the educational experience for our kids. Teachers are also exceptionally generous with their own money and provide needed supplies for our children. The creation of six-figure administrative jobs should not be rushed or taken lightly. We are talking about real money here. Real money that could be going to kids or going into classrooms or giving teachers a nominal raise or getting the capital building project on track. I know that some Board members have bemoaned the lack of parental contributions, but that is a tall ask when this Board is, at least from an appearance perspective, handing out administrative pay like Halloween candy. For this upcoming school year, we will have two administrators paid nearly as much as the superintendents of some of the state’s largest school districts. See https://www. delawareonline.com/story/news/ education/2018/06/29/how-much- delaware-superintendents-paid- per-student/742794002/ . Shouldn’t we see what Riccardo and Denise can accomplish at $300,000 in salary (plus benefits) before we even think about adding another level of administration?
Lastly, the meetings regarding these important decisions are not so urgent that they warrant an exception to 29 Del. Code 100004(e)(2) and it’s seven day posting requirements for public meetings. The hurried and secretive nature surrounding the hiring on Riccardo was concerning. The fact that it is happening again a month later is even more concerning. As parents and teachers have been trying to express throughout the Spring, OCS is a community. You should want teacher input. You should want parent input. The involvement and engagement of these cohorts is what makes OCS great. Their should have been communication and input sought on the last structural management change and it should be sought again. Whether it’s intentional or not, the vibe conveyed by this Board is that parents and teachers are an obstacle that the Board must overcome to achieve it’s objectives. This does not make for a healthy school culture.
I respectfully request that this Board take a few steps back on this latest initiative. Pump the brakes a bit more. Solicit some additional involvement and perspective from our community. Holding meetings that aren’t scheduled for 3:00 PM on week days or posted with little to no advanced notice. There is absolutely nothing that is being proposed right now that cannot wait for serious deliberation and input from the OCS community.
Amen Ryan! These are the kind of parents who can and do make a difference! We need more of them! While any school board is essentially in charge of a charter school or district, they should not operate in a silo. Parental and teacher involvement is essential. I am very curious what the Delaware Department of Education is doing about this. Is there going to be more coming out about all this? My 8-ball says yes!
People operate under this assumption I hate charter schools. I don’t. But I do hate backdoor shenanigans like this! I hate it in school districts and I hate it in state government as well. When it comes to education and your child’s school, it really shouldn’t matter what side of the political aisle you sit on. All parents should stand up when they see something they don’t like. And when you feel your voice isn’t being heard you should make it public. If they won’t listen, you better be sure the rest of Delaware will! Which includes legislators, the DOE, parents, teachers, and those who will begin watching everything they do!
Any school that has to rely on parent donations to fund their school has some serious financial issues. If I were a parent at this school, even if I had the means, I would not give them one cent until they got their act together. But the fact they are begging parents for money is concerning to me. If they are budgeting and projecting budgets based on these donations that is a major red flag.