Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Wichita School Board - "Go Along to Get Along"

The Wichita Eagle caught my attention yesterday with this lead that bears a remarkable resemblance to honest debate and sound stewardship of district resources.

The Wichita school district doesn't need another highly paid administrator to oversee racial equity and accountability, a board member said Monday.

"I'm still not happy with the idea that we're creating a special position that we don't need," said board member Jeff Davis.

Sadly, my hopes for a school board member willing to make a real difference and stand up to the USD 259 bureaucracy were dashed in the very next paragraph...

His comments came during discussion of a proposed job description for the new director of equity and accountability, a job officials hope to advertise within the district later this month. Board members -- including Davis -- voted unanimously to create the position earlier this year.

Now let's see what 'Going Along to Get Along" get's us....

The Eagle goes on to explain how the district will budget $300,000 for a 'Director of Equity and Accountability". That's $100k for a DC consultant to work up a job description of what a 'Director of Equity and Accountability' would actually do. Then another $200k for the new director's salary, the salary of a clerical assistant, and office supplies.

Allegedly, a 'Director of Equity and Accountability' would oversee the district's transition away from busing for integration, analyze data, establish diversity goals and serve on committees dealing with school boundaries and student assignments.

Of course, we can't know for sure what the 'Director of Equity and Accountability' will be doing until the $100,000 consultant comes up with a job. It seems that with a Superintendent, Interim Superintendent, 5 Assistant Superintendents, 4 Chiefs, and an even dozen department Directors, that someone in USD 259 headquarters could either figure out what job entails, or do the job entirely.

The 'Executive Director of Quality Improvement Services' can't spare some time to serve on a committee? The 'Transportation Manager' and not one of his three assistants is capable of analyzing data? However, the 'Facilities Division Director' and 'Facilities Design and Construction Director' are probably too busy figuring out their own job descriptions to help with a new position.

At the end of the day, Kevass Harding summed things up as best he could:

Board member Kevass Harding said the new administrator should ease residents' concerns over the busing change.

"One of the concerns from the community was, 'OK, when we do this, are we going to go backwards?' That was their fear," Harding said. "That really enforced to me that there's a need to have a person that's going to deal with... this whole piece on diversity, on busing."

Wait a second! Isn't changing public perception the job of the 'Marketing and Communication Division Director'?

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