Friday, February 21, 2014

H-L Fires a Warning Shot Across Shelton's Bow

There have got to be thousands of ways to mess up in public school administration. Surely one of the biggest is to raise the hackles of the local newspaper, especially one that has the reach of the Herald-Leader.

With apologies to Mike Keefe/Denver Post
The Herald-Leader has a history of supporting superintendents believed to capable and looking out for the interests of the schools. We have seen them give superintendents a wide berth. But the paper is highly (and rightly) protective of its own domain and that includes all public information. If sufficiently riled up, they will sue. Worse for a local school superintendent, they will latch on to an issue and follow it to its conclusion.

I'm not sure why Tom Shelton thought he should not share information with the press that he had already made public. But he may want to rethink that position.

This from the Herald-Leader:

Shelton risks public trust in public schools

Lexington residents take a deep interest in education, which sometimes might cause headaches for those managing a big complex school system. But it's a headache they must live with.

Superintendent Tom Shelton's announcement that Fayette County Public Schools must cut $20 million, a little less than 5 percent, from its $433 million budget is sure to bring stress and disagreement.

Any appearance that Shelton and his staff are withholding information to avoid public displeasure will only increase the stress. This seemed to be the case when Shelton refused to provide a reporter with a PowerPoint presentation he had shown at an open school board meeting, saying it was a preliminary document.

The information was provided to an elected body in a public forum, so how can it not be public?

Public schools rely on public support, including but certainly not limited to taxpayer support. Such support rests on trust, which can be earned only through openness and leveling with the public.

Read more here:


Anonymous said...

Missing the mark by 20 million seems almost egregious in the budgetary new normal. Given the amount involved it would be hard to believe that the State Auditor would not be involved at some point in the investigation.

Richard Day said...

Well, I'm not sure about that. There's no getting around the fact that $20 million is a big number, but that's within a budget of $400 million plus.

I think the superintendent has to give the public an explanation before anything happens. I assume that's what Amanda Ferguson was after.

Anonymous said...

Not just a fiscal big number, it sounds like a big number for non tenured folks losing their jobs.

Anonymous said...

I am very disturbed by Tom Shelton and his behavior. He is a degree in finance. Did he not see this financial disaster coming?

I was told Mr. Silberman was never able to recover from his bike accident. Now I wonder what is going on with Shelton.

He is losing the support of teachers. Their jobs are on the chopping block, but at Central Office, it is business as usual. Lu's salary is very high. As kind as she is, we do not need her. We need teachers in the classroom. A friend of mine at Central Office also pointed to the bloated salary of Vince Maddox. I'm not sure he is worth his salary. And an accountant friend of mine said that salaries at Central Office amount to 1/5 of the total budget.
Maybe this can be verified.

As an aside, It was very good to see that Board Memeber Doug Barnett is listening to the concerns of educators. He is really such a humanitarian.

Dr. Shelton should also be ashamed of himself for trying to intimidate the band director at Lafayette High School. What was that all about?

I spend nine hour days at school, and so do many of my colleagues. We should feel that we are part of the decision making process. I have never felt Central Office welcomed teacher input.